Hello, my name is Robert Jeffries. This is my first blog post so I figured that I would quickly introduce myself. I have been working in the IT industry for the past 10 years. I have had the privilege to work for several major, top level companies and ISP’s in this beautiful state. This includes MTA, in Wasilla, Integrated Logic, in Palmer, and GCI in Anchorage. I have worked on the network and systems infrastructure at every level in the industry and I am very familiar and comfortable with everything from residential and small business up to enterprise networks with thousands of nodes. I am privileged to be very well travelled and the work that I have completed in the past has allowed me to see most places in the entire State of Alaska. A brief overview of things I’ve worked on in the past include: Systems and Network Management, System Imaging OSX and Windows, Network Phone Deployment (Cisco and Avaya), Data Cabling in addition to many other technologies.
This was my third time attending ASTE, however, ASTE 2015 was the first year that I did not have a vendor table with an exhibit to tend to. Typically, you could find me demonstrating how our caching/acceleration gear works or just building and setting up gear in our booth. This year, the only goal I was given was to familiarize myself with the venders and technology that was presented there. In addition to reconnecting with people and informing them about the creation of planIT Consulting.
This allowed me to see the event as a person attending, not just a vendor. This was also the first year that I attended the Ididacontest dinner. Seeing all of the media, art and music that students and teachers across the state are making is really inspirational. Especially when you hear a piece of music created by an elementary student that is better than most things I make. Being able to see all of the school districts in the state represented as one and to be able to sit down and have dinner with everyone was a really cool opportunity that I don’t often get. I was able to catch up with old friends and share ideas.
Unfortunately, it seemed like there were a lot less people this year for some reason. I’m not 100% sure what the cause of this was, but the attendance was considerable lower. The other thing that took me by surprise was the amount of twitter posts that were encouraged. I realize that the theme this year was gaming, but If I were to offer one main criticism, it would be towards the social media achievement unlock aspect. The TV in the lobby had an almost non-stop feed of nonsensical tweets from the attendants. Sometimes, it appeared that people were taking pictures of everything from slides to random stuff around every room. I’m really not sure how this helps anyone, because I believe encouraging attendants to have the most twitter posts during the conference seems counter productive. I wouldn’t be upset if this idea went away entirely for next year.
Attending this years conference helped me realize the core of ASTE is about sharing technology, ideas, and experience across the state, so that we can all work together to bring our youth the best most fulfilling experiences and opportunities. Being able to see all of the creative and useful things that students and teachers are able to create and bring to the table using the technology puts everything into perspective for me. Actually sitting and thinking about all of this helps me remember what we are here for, and why I do what I can to help.
Finally, I want to mention something that may seem unrelated. One of my favorite things ever is Japanese Kaiju. You might know this term from the last year’s movies Pacific Rim or Godzilla, this term literally translates to “Strange Creature”. People have come to recognize this term to refer to any and all Japanese giant monster films. My favorite one is a slightly lesser known Kaiju named Gamera. At first, you would think he is a giant destructive turtle, but it turns out he is actually a guardian of earth. The one thing that sets him apart from any of the rest of the other Kaiju, is that he recognizes the children are the earth’s most valuable resource and protecting and investing everything in them is the only thing that can ensure the future. Although, he totally has no problems with wrecking cities as long as no children are harmed, which makes for a great cinema experience!
I am very excited about the future adventures with planIT Consulting in the educational technology field, mostly because I have come to realize it is one of the things I am best at. I have opportunities to help in other areas, but this one is by far the most rewarding.