There is one common theme within the school districts in Pennsylvania when it comes to technology professionals in education. There are only a few of us in each district and getting together with other IT professionals is difficult.
Why It Began
Here at Lancaster-Lebanon IU 13, an educational service agency in PA that provides a wide variety of services and training to school districts, our system administrator was frustrated about how there were no affordable conferences for IT professionals who are working in the field of education. The only conference that was remotely related to educational technology focused more on technology integration into the curriculum, not the day-to-day issues that technology professionals face in the educational environment. Technology directors, network engineers, application developers, desktop support, and system administrators have no conference to go to in the state of Pennsylvania that they could learn what other districts are doing, talk about some cost savings measures, and successful implementation of IT solutions.
How It Began
Since we have a conference center at our location, a small team of people in our Technology Services Department decided to see if they could create a conference for this target audience. In 2010 with some grant money and some seed money, Tech Talk Live, a two-day conference for technology professionals supporting education was born. We brought in David Pogue, New York Times technology columnist, as the keynote speaker and invited all the technology professionals that work in our school districts, fixing the computers, running the networks, making sure the teachers can get their e-mails, etc. Tech Talk Live finally gave this group a place to go network with their peers and attend informational sessions geared specifically to their field.
Sponsors were chosen and invited by the IT staff members based on whose booths they would want to visit if they were to attend a conference. We invited other IT professionals working in education to submit proposals to do breakout sessions, sharing best practices and cutting edge technologies. Some troubleshooting games were created and prizes were offered. And evening dinner was planned and we even brought a Game Truck in. After all, we knew our audience and what made them sit up and take notice.
The first year was a success! David Pogue was well received, attendance was good, and the feedback was positive from both the sponsors and the participants. Many people commented on how happy they were that we had decided to have this conference, as there was a great need for it. The sponsors commented on how this was a perfect match between the audience and the sponsors, that these were exactly the people they needed to be talking to.
Getting Bigger and Better
Since that first year, we continue to host Tech Talk Live in the spring. Each year we get a little bit bigger and a little bit better. We use the feedback we receive from the evaluations and improve upon the conference each year. We have the schedule on a mobile app now, and last year we recorded most of the sessions and made them available to our attendees through our online learning platform, Knowledge4Solutions.com. This year, we will be launching our first Tech Talk Live Virtual conference for attendees who are too far away to travel to easily travel to Lancaster, PA. We always have a keynote speaker who is able to be entertaining and yet technical (they are hard to find, so if you are a technical person who is funny and not afraid of public speaking, contact us!).
Our attendees say that they value the time to network with their peers the most. Many of them are isolated in their districts and Tech Talk Live provides them with the opportunity to talk to their colleagues in other districts, learn what new technologies others are implementing and how they have solved different issues. Several comment on how they always learn at least one cost saving measure that they can take back to their district that saves their district way more than the cost to send them to Tech Talk Live.
Join The Conference
Tech Talk Live usually attracts 200 or so attendees; let’s face it, how many IT folks are working in education? Our target audience is small, but very specific, and the content is geared to meet their exact interests. We also match our vendors with the audience perfectly. We are proud of our conference…97% of our attendees last year said they will come again this year. And, there’s always room for a few more.
So if you know of any IT professionals in your school district, let them know about Tech Talk Live! More information about the conference can be found at
our Tech Talk Live website.
Jeff here. I was just browsing the Lancaster-Lebanon IU 13 website and came across a fabulous little image created to showcase the priorities of the school. I wanted to share it with the Edudemic audience below but the original (along with a great bulleted list of topics and descriptions) is available on this page.