Vision Accomplished: Parent Edtech Conference

Eight months ago, Parent Edtech Conferences was simply an idea that I had about improving education and a few weeks I officially made it a reality.

And I'm so glad its over.

It's not because it was a horrible or terrible experience (in fact it was really encouraging!), but I knew that I needed to have the experience of the first conference before I could really start expanding and growing my idea.

I officially launched the conference to the public after Minarets Fall Showcase, which is our version of back to school night. I bombarded parents with flyers in their quarter grade packets, emails, and posts on social media. The conference was held on Wednesday, November 16; next year I plan on having the conference much closer to the start of the year for further relevancy, but with this being my first conference I decided to have it later so I could plan it better.
Original Flyer with Survey
Flyer Once Sessions Were Set

An aspect of the Parent Edtech conference that I wanted was having it customized to what the parents need. Because there is not cookie-cutter format for schools to use technology, every school does something different. For example, my former school uses Google Classroom and Illuminate, my friend's school uses Aeries and Google Classroom, and Minarets uses Schoology and Powerschool. to keep it customized, I had parents fill out a survey about what they wanted to learn about:
Full form can be found here.
I also included a section for any parent that felt that they could present on any suggested session, but the only volunteers I had were for social media, which did not make the top-voted sessions. I'm hoping next year parents will feel empowered after attending the conference to then present about technology the following year; I had a few parents who were excited by the prospect!

In regards to the structure of the conference, I wanted it to be similar to CUE and GAFE Summits, with an opening 'keynote' for everyone to meet and then rotating sessions; this would allow parents to pick and choose which sessions and what other they wanted to go in. I kept my expectations low in regards to turn out so I only planned four sessions; the rotation and selection will be more powerful when there are more than 3-4 sessions. I based the sessions around the results of the survey and organized as shown below:

For presenters, I mostly had to recruit them myself. Our financial secretary (who is also a parent) presented on Powerschool; she's a master of the parent app and understands it from both perspectives. Our counselor presented on Schoology since she also understands both perspectives and could accurately show parents how to navigate it. Our head of charter presented on Macbook Leasing, a session he asked he could present on. The last session about Macbook Tips and Tricks proved to be the most stressful session because I could not find a presenter. Our district tech person was unable to present it, but made a presentation for whoever did it. On the day of the conference, I had a last minute student volunteer, our ASB president, who stepped up to do the session, which saved me from doing it.

In the end, we had about 30 parents show up for the conference. I had parents sign-in with a Google Form for my records and to share with teachers who offerred Pro Points for students who's parents attended. After attending a session at Fall CUE, I decided to record the Keynote on the Minarets' Facebook page as a Live Video for those who missed the conference. As the conference was going on, I also recorded my very first Periscope where I was walk through all the sessions as they were going on.

All the feedback I got from parents, teachers, and administrators were positive and all parents said that they learned something new. It was also great to see parents more empowered about their students' education and learning just as their students do every day.

I also got some awesome media students to take pictures during the conference:

Parent Edtech Conference

There are many different things that I want to do different:
  • To be sooner. As I mentioned, I made it November mostly so I would have time to plan it without it being a total flop. My principal and I are already discussing next year and possibly making integrating it with another early event. We've also discussed about making it mandatory for parents (they can opt out, but they will need to sign a form) to ensure that new parents are prepared for the school year.
  • To be bigger. My administrators mentioned the event at a Board Meeting so know we are considering making it a district event since all the school now use the same programs. This would obviously increase attendance of the event and get the word out. If we can draw more people in, my principal and I have discussed having a bus go down into Fresno to pick up Fresno parents as well as daycare services. 
  • More structured. Overall, I liked the structure of the event, but I would like to include a concluding activity, like CUE and GAFE Summits. This year, parents randomly trickled out and I would like to include something more. 
  • More repeatable. My moonshot goal is for this conference to be repeated and customized for schools around the country. This year, however, I just wanted to host one so I could have that experience. Some of the things I did could be repeatable, but many of my images were done on Photoshop and I didn't make it as highly structured and organized as I would like. I need to figure out a better way to plan the event so other people can repeat it. 
With everything said and done, I cannot wait for next year and making the conference even bigger and better. 


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