Goodbye Laptop Institute

Yesterday, I returned home from my favorite conferences of the year, the Laptop Institute held at the Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, TN. I had the pleasure of being able to lead two pre-conference workshops, both Geeking Out With Google Apps for Ed, and five different conference sessions. My hat goes off to Stewart Crais, Paige Holmes, and the rest of the teachers and staff at Lausanne for allowing us to come into their rooms for sharing.

Why is this my favorite conference of the year? Great question. One reason that it ranks as one of my highlights of the year is the size of the conference. With 600 attendees, it is large enough for a wide diversity of ideas, but small enough to remain intimate. There is a great mix of both technologists, IT staff, and teachers. This year being an exception, there has always been a great variety of teachers from international schools as well. The group turns over so that there are always new folks attending.

The organizers also keep the conference informal. Unlike other conferences, where presenters are posturing for attention, I would feel out of place presenting in a shirt and tie. A nice short sleeved dress shirt is better suited for the usually hot and humid weather in Memphis. The friendly nature of this conference begins with a reception and banquet on Sunday and then ends with a party at one of Memphis’ establishments, with food, drink, and music.

Also, since the move to downtown Memphis, the free time is easier spent. Being able to go to Redbirds Park and catch a game in a beautiful little stadium, going to BB King’s to catch Will Tucker, the Blues Cafe to catch Dr. Feelgood Potts, and Gary Hardy and the Memphis 2 play at the Blues City Cafe (close your eyes and you would swear you were listening to Johnny Cash) and it makes for great opportunities to catch great baseball and music with both old and new friends.

Over the next few days, I will be reflecting on my different sessions. I enjoyed giving them and I think that they were well received.

I look forward to returning again next year. To a new conference. For after the 10th anniversary conference, it was announced that the focus of the conference had changed from the tool (technology) to the learning and the conference would be re-branded with a new name. I cannot wait to see what they rename this wonderful conference.

Mark your calendars for next year, July 14 – July 16, 2013 and I hope to see you there.

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