ISTE Course SnapShotIt takes me a while to get ready for an ISTE conference, the International Society for Technology in Education’s annual conference, and #ISTE2015 is like no exception.

Last year the Atlanta conference was 50 miles away from our Georgia district and so there were many newbies attending from our district, many administrators. I made a course around the conference for attendees which helped me learn a great deal about ISTE, but also distracted me from getting into my primary conference attitude of learning and I did not learn as I usually do. I encountered many people from our district at the conference itself, but often they want to talk about the requirements for their Professional Learning Units with me (understandable), whereas I was really hoping to talk about the learning each of us was experiencing. I tried to write an evaluation of last year a few times, and really it just boils down to it wasn’t the best experience for my learning.

This year we are traveling back to Philadelphia with a small contingent of attendees from our district. I anticipate the smaller numbers and the physical location change should help me transition to learner. I am working on two projects over the summer which I am finding I need to manage teachers and their contributions well in order to compartmentalize my learning to that place and time.

When I look back at what I learned in the course of one year, I really learned a great deal about what ISTE offers me. I participated in #ETCoaches chats throughout the year and even signed up to facilitate one. The Ed Tech Coaches Network (formerly SIGTC) group has been quite a benefit of my ISTE membership. I have connected with peers doing similar work and that has been lacking in my face-to-face daily work at my district. With such a limited face-to-face group when I have ideas which are outliers it helps to know there are others out there approaching issues in a similar way as me, and some who can challenge me too.

Polaroid #ISTE2015In preparation for #ISTE2015 I need to ready myself mentally and technologically to intake an amazing amount of information.

1. I will not over-schedule myself.
I will fight the urge to schedule every minute of every day I am there.

2. I will schedule people before events
We have a smaller, but I hope more open group attending this year. I would love to spend time with them and learn about what they are learning about, what excites them, and how I might help them when we return to school.

3. I will document as much as possible
So I still need to firm up my strategy here. In the past I’ve been a Evernoter and tweeter through good sessions. But after witnessing the way teachers use Pinterest to curate everything – maybe I need to use Pinterest as more than an after thought – but am not sure how? I struggle with how to do that at a live event. I still love the idea of crowdsourced notes for the entire conference, ala Sue Waters, and will send my Evernotes off to wherever/whoever organizes this year.

Do I have any advice for you? Well, I have a couple outliers which are worth the mention; #HackEd15 is the unconference which happens the Saturday before the conference. This is definitely on the bucket list for me, but I haven’t attended yet. Follow #ISTEunplugged for more information. Something which I have attended and maybe should be on your bucket list is Pitchfest for a view into where vendors will go tomorrow attend this sales pitch at ISTE, where your boss isn’t busy crunching the numbers and you have space to imagine and cooing without giving away any strategic advantage.

Also, grab ahold of the hashtag puzzle early is my suggestion! It is counter intuitive that the hashtag be two precious characters more, HOWEVER the *official* hashtag is #ISTE2015 and NOT #ISTE15, #ISTE might have some traffic as well. Yet all are worth a follow. Also follow the #ISTEunplugged hashtag for Hacked Ed events and Maker Day information. Since you are in the following mood, be certain to check out my list of 15 Must Follows for #ISTE 2015.

The best part is the people I meet and the one or two ideas which will take hold in me once I immerse myself in the event.
I love that I now know not to be worried that I do not know what those ideas will be yet. I am not really making plans on who to meet up with either, because everyone at #ISTE2015 is worth meeting up with!
This is a face-to-face event which enhances my online relationships. I think I am ready!