I don’t high five. Ironically, unironically, for charity, for fun…it’s just not something I enjoy doing. So when I ran up the staircase to the second floor of the AT&T Conference Center into human walls of outstretched hands, I didn’t know what to do. As I was sort of thrust along this path, I found my arms being pulled up and, next thing I knew, I was high fiving. Good, hard high fives. High fives with some muscle behind them. I was assimilating. There’s nothing less convincing than a fanboy denying his passion.
I don’t want to go into great detail about the 2013 Apple Distinguished Educator Institute for a few reasons: first and foremost, I don’t want to spoil any of the experience for the class of 2015, 2017, or beyond, and I don’t know how much is repeated from Institute to Institute. Secondly, Apple’s representatives asked us to keep quite a bit of what we saw and heard to ourselves for competitive reasons. Finally, telling you that I was able to speak one-on-one with FCPX’s product manager, the iBooks Author team, and members of the Apple design team sounds nice, but the experiences don’t translate well. It wasn’t about access or approval or even feeling a part of what Apple does; it was about solving problems, making things better, and becoming a part of the machinery that improves student experiences, especially as they relate to technology.
I will provide a general overview: it’s like Disney World for teacher-nerds. The days are packed with workshops and learning activities while the evenings tended to be driven by social and collective experiences. Every single workshop was valuable for me. I dove deep into FCPX, mastered iTunes U and iBooks Author, learned some of the magic behind iAd Producer, studied photography under Bill Frakes’ and Laura Heald’s tutelage, and improved my Keynote, GarageBand, iMovie, and Photoshop skills. The group activities were generally fun and occasionally illuminating, but I won’t be spoiling any surprises here.
So because I’m not going to write about projects, workshops, or special events (though I can reveal that I tried to start a rumor that Coldplay was going to play a set for us on the last night, but no one bit…ADEs are smart), I’m going to discuss people. I’ve never met more impressive people in one place. I can’t even begin to list the brilliant people I met, so…well, I guess I could. Why can’t I list some of the brilliant people I met?
@ajmanx, @jcorripo – Tony and John delivered two incredible FCPX workshops. I accidentally found myself in the beginner session, but maybe not that surprisingly, I was still able to pick a few things up. So of course I signed up for session 2, which was equally edifying.
@kajkibak – First kid I met at summer camp. Arriving at the Institute is a little intimidating (how intimidating? I went and bought cigarettes so I would have a reason to go outside), since a lot of people know each other from earlier institutes or other events. I didn’t know anyone. And I hate making introductions with all my heart and soul, so once I started talking to Kaj, I was more or less finished for the day. I don’t think we saw each other again until the last night, which made it even more like the summer camp experience.
@reshanrichards – The man behind @explainevrything also plays bass, studies math, and gives thoughtful, funny presentations. He’s the equivalent of a jock in the land of ADEs, captain of the digital football team, but also one of the nicest people I encountered during the week.
@digitalroberto – Robert was in my PLN and provided me with project direction when I had none. My whole PLN was great: @mrhooker, @darthmacgoogle, @principaljrich, and @ipoddess were all smart, thoughtful, and incredibly helpful.
@misterkling – We met late into the trip, but that didn’t stop us from getting out of the compound with Carl Hooker and others. Kris was the only person who seemed to have no trouble following every instruction in the Advanced Keynote seminar, which impressed me to no end.
@shoewee – John and I are basically trying to carve out the same career in different parts of the country, so our time talking was really helpful for me. He also shared great wisdom with me: get the individual room upgrade. #nexttime
@stacecarter – Calm, funny, and patient. A good influence on us and always a pleasure to talk to.
@cordym – I’m not an energy guy, and there are times when I tense up in the face of high energy people. But Michelle was high energy in the best possible way: she had a good word for everyone, a great story of how she’s working through the challenges in her deployment, and a convivial approach to everything we did.
Other ADEs you should follow/talk to this year: @aquiamigo, @rebeccawildman, @shaylamsb, @dwmalone, @weberswords, @techchef4u, @whittmister, @_luisfperez, and anyone hashtagging #ADE2013, really.
Last word: they gave us all iPhone 8s, which won’t be released to the general public until 2015. They run iOS 9 (though you can also dual-boot into Android Fried Twinkie Burger). But I shouldn’t even be telling you that.