7 helpful Tips & Tricks For ISTE Newbies
This year I will join over 13,000 teachers, media specialists, tech coordinators, and administrators at ISTE ed tech conference in Atlanta, Georgia. When I go to register and grab my name badge, I will be grabbing the “This is my first ISTE conference!” ribbon to add to my badge.
Four days filled with keynotes, sessions, networking, social media, events and more- how to take advantage of it all without feeling overwhelmed? I gathered advice from ISTE veterans and took to blogs and Twitter.
If you are a newbie like me, read below for some helpful tips that will make your experience a great one.
Before boarding the plane, get connected with the ISTE Network. Once registered you can connect with special interest groups like ISTE Newcomers. You can get answers to questions in the forum and join other special interest groups like Mobile Learning.
2. Plan accordingly
Visit the ISTE website and start planning your sessions with My Favorites planner. Think about your goals and needs for the conference. Where will you take this learning once you leave ISTE? A classroom? A room filled with teachers? A school district? A good place to start is to decide key speakers you would like to hear. You might want to get there early to wait in line so you can get a good seat. ISTE makes it easy to search the program by date, focus, format or presenter.
If you like a paper and pencil planning method, check out Erin Klein’s way of creating her schedule from her Kleinspiration blog. I used Google calendar and created a new ISTE calendar to keep track of my schedule. Another way to access your schedule is to download the ISTE 2014 mobile app so your favorites and important conference information are at the tip of your fingertips.
After all this talk about creating your schedule, don’t forget to be flexible. Some recommend planning day by day because the sessions and people you talk to one day might influence your choices for the next day. Do create some room in your schedule to visit the interactive Expo floor with over 500 vendors. By talking with the vendors, you can learn from them just as much as a session.
3. Pack well
Bring some snacks with you, convention center has food but it may be far away and it’s easier to snack on a granola bar or apple while walking around the poster sessions. A sheet of address labels will help you enter all those cool giveaways without having hand write them all.
Bring your own mobile hotspot, even with the largest tech conference in the world, wifi access can be spotty, especially since everyone is most likely connecting 5 or more personal devices. Maximize your learning at ISTE by watching this fun video to help prepare your devices for ISTE. I know I plan on bringing more than a few devices and gadgets.
4. Personal learning network (PLN)
Connect with other people in your PLN or special interest groups that are at ISTE. This will help you process all the information you are learning and start to build new relationships that will last beyond ISTE.
Other ways you can connect are to follow the hashtag #ISTE2014 on Twitter. If you don’t have a Twitter account, get one set up so you can follow and participate in the back channels during the conference. Start by following the presenters from the sessions you attend.
To handle all the information that the vendors and others may have, set up an specific email address and give them that to email you the information. This way you don’t have to carry around lots of papers. Another idea is to snap a picture of the materials. I plan to snap pictures and tag it “ISTE 2014” in Evernote.
ISTE affiliate groups, special interest groups and vendors throw parties filled with food and entertainment. How often do educators get to hang out together and just have fun? If you get invited or have connections, go to the party!
After a full day of learning about new technologies, chatting on Twitter, connecting with other educators and walking for miles, feel free to go back to your room and enjoy some downtime. Conferences can be exciting and overwhelming so take care of yourself too, you don’t want to miss out on any of the fun!