It's June, and one of the biggest edtech conferences in the US is quickly approaching -- ISTE's annual conference & exposition in San Diego. I don't know about you, but I always get nerdily excited for opportunities like this to network and collaborate with likeminded folks passionate about education. ISTE currently has almost 700 sessions available to attend, some buzz-worthy keynotes including Sir Ken Robinson and Dr. Yong Zhao, and a HUGE edtech expo. With all of these events going on, it can be overwhelming to even the most tech-savvy educator. So, I've compiled some useful tips from my experiences at ISTE that can help you make the most of your trip.
Tip #1: Try Something New
Yes, there are nearly 700 sessions to attend but what about the other stuff? Sometimes, it's actually more beneficial to get involved in the not-so-official activities of the conference. Check out the ISTE Unplugged events, which include SocialEdCon (formerly EduBloggerCon), The Global Education Summit, The Blogger's Cafe at the Sails Pavillion (hint: Edutopia will be there passing out VIP badges), and ISTE LIVE. Plus, make sure you check out the ISTE Ignite sessions, the poster sessions and student showcases. Bonus points if you hang out in the Newbie or Social Butterfly Lounge and attend a Birds of a Feather session. And if you still have some downtime, make sure to head on over to the expo hall, where you can attend some cool demos and get free swag.
Tip #2: Plan Ahead But Allow Some Flexibility
Don't plan out your schedule to the minute. I've heard many people tweet that they have over 400 sessions in their calendar to attend -- don't be that guy/gal! If you are attending a good amount of sessions, make sure you arrive early and introduce yourself to the person you're waiting in line with. Some of the best conversations I had happened while I was waiting in line for a session. Always make time for conversation -- it continues to be the highlight of my ISTE experiences. Tip: make sure you look at the sessions that are being offered through video on demand. I'd make a point to not go to them so you can listen to them on the plane back.
Tip #3: Remember That You're Human
I know -- there are so many exciting things going on that sometimes things like eating, drinking water and, dare I say it, even going to the restroom get put aside. A good way to avoid this is to schedule some visits/meetings with colleagues/new friends over a snack. Make a point to explore San Diego with a bite to eat and carry a water bottle that you can refill at the convention center. Check out all of these restaurants and cafes within blocks of the convention center. Oh, and comfy shoes and sunscreen are key. And if you have a portable iPhone charger, you will be very popular!
Tip #4: Engage in a Back Channel
Make a goal to tweet at least once within a session you attend (and make sure to use the official conference hashtag #ISTE12 so you can connect with others and help #ISTE12 trend on Twitter). Also, it's worth noting that many sessions will use their own hashtag to focus the back channel -- I usually just ask at the session if there is one. I also use Twitter as a way to crowdsource notes and sometimes to even figure out what sessions to attend. Afterwards, I just compile the tweets using storify or a Twitter search and voila! -- instant notes that featuring highlights that I couldn't have begun to capture alone. Tip: remember that balance is key. This may be the one time you get to meet someone you've been tweeting with for years. Don't be anti-social and tweet at them. Just walk over and say hello -- without technology. Oh, and for you extreme tech multi-taskers (I'm also including myself in this bucket), don't get stuck in a corner checking in, tweeting, Instagramming, etc. while the conference passes you by. Note: If you run into me doing this at ISTE, you have permission to kick me.
Tip #5: Get Social (the Face-to-Face Kind) and Stay Connected
There's only so much information you can consume. Give your brain a break and let loose at some after parties and social events. Here's a list of social events at ISTE 2012, and here's a Ning where you can add your own social event to the list. And . . . try to find a way to connect with educators you meet at these social events through Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, QR Codes, Google+ and more.
"Must-See" Sessions at ISTE
Full Disclosure: Many of these sessions are by Edutopia bloggers and friends. There are too many great sessions to highlight -- so here's my take of the "must-sees." Please add your "must-sees" in the comments below. And see you at ISTE!
Monday, June 25, 2012
- 8:30AM-9:30AM: ISTE Ignite Sessions, SDCC 6F
- 11:00AM-12:00PM: Android Powered Projects, Mitchell Jorgensen, SDCC 30CD (BYOD)
- 11:00AM-12:00PM: Improving Access to Reliable Information about Educational Technology Products and Approaches, Karen Cator, SDCC Hall D (Panel)
- 11:00AM-12:00PM: Making Connections with Blogging: Authentic Learning for Today's Classrooms, Lisa Parisi, SDCC 9 (Lecture)
- 12:45pm-1:45pm: Creativity is the Killer App, Chris Walsh, SDCC 6A (Lecture)
- 12:45pm-1:45pm: Collaborative Mentoring for New Teachers Lisa Dabbs, SDCC 26A (Panel)
- 12:45pm-1:45pm: Eight Ways to Start Conversations around Change, Will Richardson, SDCC 6F (Spotlight)
- 2:30pm-3:30pm: Empathy: The 21st Century Skill, Alan November, SDCC 6C (Spotlight)
- 2:30pm-3:30pm: Wonderful World of Wiki Teaching, Vicki Davis, SDCC 31AB (BYOD)
- 2:30pm-3:30pm: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future, Adam Bellow, SDCC 1 (Spotlight)
- 5:30pm-6:45pm: Online Communities of Practice and Their Role in Education, Sheryl Nussbaum, SDCC 33A (Birds of a Feather Session)
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
- 10:30am-11:30am: What it Means to be a Digital Leader? Unpacking the NETS*A, Steven Anderson, SDCC 1 (Lecture)
- 10:30am-11:30am: High Tech High Student Work, Larry Rosenstock, SDCC4 (Spotlight)
- 10:30am-11:30am: Terrific Tools for Teaching with Bloom's Taxonomy, Cory Plough, SDCC 32AB (BYOD)
- 12:15pm-1:15pm: The Many Faces of the Flipped Classroom, Aaron Sams, Eric Marcos, Ramsey Musallam, Stacey Roshan and Dan Spencer, SDCC 6F (Panel)
- 12:15pm-1:15pm: How Immersion in Mobile-Enabled Augmented Realities Helps Students Learn, Chris Dede, SDCC 7B (Lecture)
- 12:15pm-1:15pm: Collaborative Writing and Common Core Standards in the Classroom, Vicki Davis, SDCC 8 (Spotlight)
- 2:00pm-3:00pm: STEM Picks Up STEAM: Adding the Arts in STEM Education, Merry Willis, SDCC 9 (Lecture)
- 2:00pm-3:00pm: A Broader Perspective on Data: Infographics and Visualization, David Warlick, SDCC 6E (Spotlight)
- 3:45pm-4:45pm: Bookmarks, PLN's, and More: Supercharge Your Learning, Teaching, and Research, Vicki Davis, SDCC 31AB (BYOD)
- 3:45pm-4:45pm: ISTE Ignite Session #2, Betty Ray, Edutopia, SDCC 6A
- 5:00pm-6:15pm: PBL Birds of a Feather, Suzie Boss, SDCC 9 (Birds of a Feather Session)
Tuesday, June 27, 2012
- 8:30am-9:30am: Meeting the Common Core: Rigorous, Relevent, Technology-Enhanced Project Based Learning, Dayna Laur, SDCC 7B (Lecture)
- 8:30am-9:30am: Education's Mobile Revolution: A True Disruption Takes Hold, David Thornburg, SDCC 1 (Spotlight)
- 8:30am-9:30am: The Evolving Face of Leadership in 21st Century Schools, Patrick Larkin, SDCC 26A (Lecture)
- 11:45am-12:45pm: Literature Circles on the iPad, Diane Darrow, SDCC 30CD (BYOD)
- 11:45am-12:45pm: Even More Google Geekiness, Chris Walsh, SDCC 32AB (BYOD)
- 11:45am-12:45pm: Inside the New Idea Factory: Strategies to Foster Student Innovation, Suzie Boss, SDCC 9 (Lecture)
- 1:15pm-2:15pm: Hollywood Squares: A Brain-Bending Game Show, Joyce Valenza, School District of Springfield Township with Steven Anderson, Adam Bellow (etc.), SDCC 6A (Panel)
- 1:15pm-2:15pm: Learning 2.0: How Social Media is Redefining Learning and Teaching, Steve Hargadon, SDCC 6C (Panel)