I just left the ISTE conference and am sitting at the airport waiting for my flight. This was my first year going to the conference. I went with the TechSmith team, meaning that I did multiple presentations at their booth. For full disclosure, they have never paid me to do presentations or use their product. However, they did pay my way to the conference since I would be spending a large part of the conference at their booth. My presentation was titled: “Reducing student anxiety levels through the flipped model.” I spoke about what made me flip my classroom and the resulting shift in both the classroom culture and my role as a teacher. The presentations were so well attended, much more so than I could have anticipated, which was very exciting.
What I would like to talk about here is the care with which the TechSmith team does their work and how devoted they are to helping teachers grow. First, just look at how they chose to run their booth at ISTE. All day, teachers were doing presentations. And if you watched the presentations, none of the ones given by teachers centered around the product. In fact, my presentation only mentioned Camtasia Studio once, when I spoke about what gave me the idea to flip my classroom. TechSmith is all about supporting the teacher and genuinely does not push their product, at least from my experience. They are not looking for loyal customers who just like them because they are cool people (though they are!). They genuinely want teachers to be using the best products out there, and they strive hard to stay one step ahead of the game. I feel super comfortable in saying they live up to this high standard.
Secondly, they genuinely care and are passionate about their work. It is clear that each and every one of the team members I have met loves what he/she does. The main product I use is Camtasia Studio (to create video lectures for my version of the flipped classroom). It all started when I met Dave McCollom (education evangelist) at Alan November’s Building Learning Communities Conference the summer of 2010. When I heard what Camtasia Studio could do, I knew I had an answer to the high anxiety in my AP classroom. I talked to Dave, got a license for Camtasia Studio, and it all took off from there. I went home and prepared my video lectures to be used that school year. The first day of class, I told my students my plan of action and I didn’t do a traditional lecture a single day that year. I kept in contact with the TechSmith team throughout the year; they supported my growth and were deeply interested in how I was using Camtasia, what I liked about it, and where there was room for improvement. There were multiple PR opportunities throughout the year, which really helped me get my work out there and build relationships with other teachers. Rachael Parker, education marketing manager, always keeps me in the loop regarding conferences that I might be interested in attending or presenting at. Anything I need, she always seems to be there…
Shane Lovellette, Camtasia product manager, has been amazingly helpful and caring. One thing that I really wanted was a quizzing feature that could easily be embedded into the videos and for a report to then be generated summarizing student responses. The first time we talked about this, Shane carefully listened to what I was looking for. As he worked on tweaking the quizzing capabilities in Camtasia Studio, he kept me in the loop about what he was working on and asked for my input along the way. Most of the time, he would ask me a question and I would send back 5 more questions in response. He took his time to carefully and accurately think about my questions/requests and then would send me a detailed response (almost always including some type of screencast with further explanation), making it clear that not only had he read my all-too-long email, but that he was also carefully thing about how he might be able to implement my requests. If you have any interest in quizzing and have not seen the new release of Camtasia Studio 8, you MUST see what they have come up with. Seriously, I could not have asked for more.
This spring, I had the opportunity to hang out with Troy Stein, education solutions architect, for two whole days, when he came out to my school to create a video spotlighting my work in the classroom. His work speaks for itself. I don’t know how he does what he does… But not only is Troy a master at his work, he also is one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people you will ever meet. I don’t love being in front of the video camera, but he made me feel so comfortable, I often times forgot the camera was rolling. We had so much fun, I was genuinely bummed when he left. He truly made me feel special for the work I was doing in my classroom. And then there is Jo Sutka, trade show manager, who masterfully coordinates and manages everything and keeps it all rolling smoothly. The show wouldn’t run without her.
I know this turned into almost a thank you note, which was not my intention, but I needed to write it. The TechSmith team is incredible in supporting teachers and, not only do they make our work possible, but they also care to continually improve and push our growth. Finally, I really have to say that not only has TechSmith made me feel supported, they also make me feel like a rockstar. And that encouragement pushes me to continue to grow, learn, and be a better teacher. One of my favorite shirts ever is: “I went from Chalkstar to Rockstar using Camtasia!”. That is truly how TechSmith makes me feel.