On Wednesday, March 9th DoIT’s Instructional Technology team sponsored a brand new event, known as TechFest. Located across three different rooms in the University Center and featuring over 10 presenters, including DoIT’s own Jack Suess and his presentation on tips for getting your inbox to zero.
Techfest was a great success and brought the UMBC campus community together to present ways that technology can both support and improve the efficiency of day-to-day activities. Before that, TechFest was just an idea with Collin Sullivan, a freshman Information Systems and Economics major.
“You usually have some sort of IT Professional that teaches the technology…”
TechFest came from an idea Sullivan had when he was a senior in high school, interning for the Howard County Public School System. He felt that technology was being limited to just professionals and wanted to expand it. Sullivan said, “You usually have some sort of IT professional that teaches the technology, and that's pretty much it.”
Technology can be exciting and fun, and Sullivan wanted to capture that. Instead of having just professionals, why not get different community members? Techfest featured many members from the UMBC community, with students, faculty, and staff all attending.
Not everyone presenting was a DoIT employee either, as TechFest featured students hosting their own panels as well as individuals from the Career Center. Combine that with talking to people with different backgrounds at your seats, TechFest was diverse and welcoming to everyone.
Picking the workshop tools were based on a survey that was sent out through the Instructional Technology group’s myUMBC page. From there, the team determined who was interested in presenting and asked themselves what tools they would want to see, along with what tools people who took the survey wanted to see. The most popular sessions would be placed during free hour.
“I was excited about the tools I was talking about.”
Sullivan himself was presenting two back to back sessions on Apple’s iCloud and Microsoft’s OneNote. “It was insanely stressful,” Sullivan said, “but I had a lot of fun. I was excited about the tools I was talking about.” These were interactive sessions where he would create assignments for the attendees to perform.
These two tools are what Sullivan uses himself on a day-to-day basis while at UMBC. Using Microsoft’s OneNote, Sullivan can take detailed notes in his classes and then share them with his classmates. OneNote doesn't strictly have to be for students, but rather everyone can integrate it into their lives. Sullivan said, “I envision faculty and staff using OneNote in meetings, it’s really really helpful.”
An example of Collin’s notes for his classes, all taken in OneNote.
“I don’t want anyone to be afraid of the cloud,”
Apple’s iCloud can make you more productive, and Sullivan wanted to capture that. During his iCloud session, he walked participants through the new opportunities that iCloud brings. He also answered questions anyone had surrounding iCloud. “I don’t want anyone to be afraid of the cloud.” Sullivan said, “It’s getting that stigma away from the cloud.”
While TechFest was a success, Sullivan is already in the stages of planning another TechFest for next Fall, TechFest 2. “We’re already having some preliminary discussions to what it would look like.” Sullivan said. One of the big things that will change is the session break time, as there were only five minute intervals between each session, and increasing the duration of each individual session as well.
Other than TechFest, Sullivan is also serving as a senator for the SGA and oversees various initiatives. “TechFest  is definitely on my mind.” Sullivan said, “I want to keep pushing for OneNote. This isn't the last hoorah.”
You can check out how to download OneNote and other Microsoft Office tools here