The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conferences (n.d.) has been an anchor in my professional learning. Traditionally I attended the ISTE conference at the end of every June from 2012 until the pandemic. While there were many conferences on blended learning and microcredentials which influenced me the relationships I found and nurtured over the years were most impactful.
One relationship was with a vendor who eventually moved to another vendor we did not use, but because of our strong and continuing ISTE conference meet-ups, we stayed connected. She helped me connect with the ISTE Conference Review Committee from 2015+. This connection allowed me to review 30-40 applications per year. From these applications, I was able to get a sense of what was happening in the educational technology community very well. I was also able to establish new relationships with other reviewers and make deeper connections to other educational technology experts nationally.
I would recommend a good path of service to your favorite conference to volunteer to vet conference applications. This also afforded me the opportunity to grow in my professional writing.
Other relationships have been established and grown from the ISTE conferences, but none as impactful at a crucial time as with that vendor, eventually a mentor. While a natural outgrowth of my professional growth, some in my district interested in all conference participants having a similar experience, may not have liked how I sought out my own experiences associated with the ISTE conference. I eventually asked to attend other conferences as well.
June 26-30. ISTELive 21 – Edtech Conference. (n.d.). https://conference.iste.org/2021/.