The first and last time I attended the ISTE conference was in 2011 in Philadephia. It was a life changing experience where my career is concerned and not just because I got to meet Danny DeVito. My coworker and I ended up staying in one of the last hotels available during the ISTE conference, so it was overpriced and glamorous, but we saw Danny DeVito walk in and he agreed to get a selfie with us. See? Life changing. In all seriousness, I feel that the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference is, hands down, the best conference for educators.
If this is your first time attending the ISTE Conference, then you are in for an amazing four+ days of learning. If you are not attending this year, I highly encourage you to follow the #ISTE2014 hashtag on Twitter. Check out Alice Keeler’s extremely helpful post on how to keep up with the official hashtag. Even if you are not a “tweeter,” then I still encourage you to lurk as attendees do a great job sharing ideas and best practices learned within sessions. There is also #notatiste, which I fully utilized last year when I was delivering PD for my district and unable to attend ISTE 2013. It’s a great way to connect with others who want to be involved at the ISTE conference, but are not physically there. It’s virtual ISTE!
Every ISTE Conference veteran knows that the real magic in those four short days is the collaborative relationships formed with other educators. Being able to see your “tweeps” face to face adds another dimension to a relationship, that you may already have formed with them on Twitter/Voxer/Facebook, etc. Having down time to chat and really learn from one another is the best gift in participating in this conference. I highly recommend that all attendees read The Must-Have Guide To Networking At ISTE by Holly Clark. I love what Holly says about “Twitter Stars” and being approachable. That should be everyone’s goal at this conference, whether or not you have 25k followers or 2 followers.
I am taking a group of 12 other educators with me to ISTE and my advice for them is to avoid over planning and build in time to reflect and network with others. You may tick off several sessions to attend each block, but it’s okay if you end up talking to someone in the Bloggers Cafe and miss attending an actual session. The time with your new friend may end up being more valuable in the long run.
One final tip: Time spent at the ISTE conference has been compared to “drinking from a fire hose.” There is a lot of information and a lot going on, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed – if you let yourself. Most of the notes I take I first post on Twitter because I want to share concise and relevant information. If it’s important enough to put in my notes, then I should share it with others. All of my tweets and favorites are automatically stored in Evernote using an IFTTT recipe. This way I can search the #iste2014 hashtag within Evernote for easy retrieval of what I learned and shared.
Hope to see you there!