This week I'm going to “The Last Frontier”: Alaska! The purpose of my trip is to give our educational partners on the Alaskan frontier a peek at some of our exciting new solutions and share best practices that I've gleaned at other schools. As I prepare to travel, I often like to reflect on what lies ahead before I board that first flight. Here's the first entry in a series of diaries about my journey.
First of all, is the trip itself. While, yeah, I do fly a good amount, I’m really more comfortable when some part of me is touching the terra firma. Fine. But this time is a little different. On some legs of this trip, solid ground will be replaced with small planes with very different landing gear. Tires will be replaced by two large pontoons. The runway – normally in the form of pavement – will be a lake. So, that’ll be interesting!
Here’s another area that’s a little intimidating. Educational videoconferencing is my world and I love it. But in Alaska, I’ll be with some highly effective teachers who routinely use videoconferencing - not as a device for special activities - but as an implemented component used every day for teaching. Picture Elaine Shuck, an expert from the Lower 48, coming to teach them all about videoconferencing? I don’t think so! I’ll likely learn a lesson or two myself.
Alaska is known as the Last Frontier. The state does push back a lot of boundaries and some of those boundaries have to do with education and pedagogy. One of the aspects I love about my work is that wherever I am, I always (always!) learn from those I’m privileged to visit. This trip also presents me with an opportunity to learn a lot and take those lessons with me to share with others.
One stop I’m particularly excited about is the opportunity to reconnect with Greg Zorbas, Alaska’s 2014 technology teacher of the year, in Kenai. Our company has worked together with Greg and his colleagues for the past several years and the relationship has benefited both sides. Not only have we shared tactics and strategies surrounding electronic collaborations, but also we have formed a strong friendship in addition. Several years ago, I visited the Zorbas family and went dog sledding. I’m not sure what’s in store this time, but I’m hoping to join them – and the bears! – for some salmon fishing in their world-class rivers. This really is the way work-life balance should be – the Alaskan way! And I’m looking forward it!
Another rewarding aspect of my work is representing Polycom. Consistently through the years, our company opened new horizons in education. That has proven to be both fun and exciting. This year, I plan to give our partners on the Alaskan frontier a peek at some of our exciting new solutions and share best practices gleaned at other schools.
I’m excited, then, about going on my Alaska trip. It will also be fun to share my adventures.
“How will Elaine do in a tiny float plane?” We’ll see as the trip develops. But know I plan to document my experiences, my findings and – perhaps – even my fishing tails. Check back on this blog and you can be a part of my adventure in the Far North! See you here soon!