A mashup of all things educational! From technology and social media to leadership and international education, this is where I will be reflecting and applying everything thing I learn from the web and my PLN. Join me on the adventure and add your opinion to the mix!

09 June 2013

5 What makes ISTE different?


I'm excited! It's my third trip to the ISTE conference and I'm just as excited this year as I was the first time.  Why?  It got me thinking... what makes a good educational conference and what makes ISTE different?

After a quick search on the Internet, I found this article from 2005, The Ten Best Education Conferences, from Education World outlining the opinions of a variety of educators talking about their best education conference experiences.  What stood out to me was that each conference was essentially the same format: reknown speakers, workshops, breakout sessions, posters, etc.   While each conference was aimed at different audiences and topics, the basis was that there is a group of dedicated professionals that come together to share and discuss what they are passionate about.  In fact, according to Dave Wingler from Edudemic in his blog article 6 Education Conferences to check out this year and the Getting Smart Staff from their blog article What Edu Conferences Should be on Your Agenda This Year, ISTE ranks as one of the important events of the educational conference calendar.

So what makes my upcoming trip to ISTE different than the rest of these conferences?  I've attended a few of the other conferences that were named and while they were excellent, they weren't quite the same.  There's something different about ISTE that is hard to define.  I believe it's because it is a technology event, where blogging, messaging, and tweeting are a norm for a majority of the people attending.  There seems to be this ever present community feeling at the conference; you recognize people from their blogs, their twitter handles, a connection that you had made a year before.  During each session you meet or connect with someone from your ever expanding PLN and develop plans for projects for the next school year.  The conference doesn't really end per se... it just carries on in cyber-space until the next physical meeting a year later.  I'm not sure that any of the other conferences can really make that claim to fame!

So, as in years past, I am bringing two #newbies to the ISTE conference with me and I am getting ready to have a "This is what you need to know about ISTE" meeting with them.  To prepare them, I plan on trying to explain this sense of ISTE to them so they can get a idea of how fortunate they are going to be and to take advantage of the connections they could make.  Is there anything else that I should include for them?  What makes ISTE special for you that I should share with them?

Looking forward to your thoughts!
Jessica :)

Photo Source: Crazybananas Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

5 comments:

William Chamberlain said...

I see ed tech conferences as a great place to have personal conversations with people that are interested in using tech in the classroom. Very few of the sessions are something that I can't learn on my own (or more likely have already experienced.) I feel much less of a need to attend tech conference sessions than other content area conferences.

I would simply tell your #newbies that sharing experiences with people that they can continue the conversations online with throughout the year is much more valuable than any of the sessions they might attend.

Jessica Allen said...

William,
Thanks so much for the feedback! I agree that it is important that the #newbies understand that sharing is at the crux of educational technology. I often feel the same way, that I can learn most of the things from the conference on my own; however, there are those moments when an amazing spark of insight is given to you by a speaker. That makes going worth it for me! I also feel that the emphasis that physcially being there places on personal professional development is important for technology too. I'll be sure to pass on your advice!

Julie Lindsay said...

ISTE is a chance to consolidate and to innovate - I encourage #newbies to attend a variety of sessions including the large spotlights, the smaller talks, the hands on BYOD, and even purchase a workshop or two. ISTE really has something for everyone - and in all formats. As William said already - the main benefit of ISTE for many of us is the conversations - so make sure you talk to people beyond your normal experience. Come to the Bloggers cafe and sit down and talk, go to the SIGDS (Digital Storytelling) sessions and mingle and talk and learn, come to the ISTE Board session where you can learn more about what ISTE is and does!....there are too many opportunities to list here. MOST of all - as a #newbie, make sure you have a PLAN for each day otherwise it can all become overwhelming. Make sure you have at least mapped out a pathway, even if you change it, start with something that is doable so you know where you should be running to next!
Have fun! Enjoy! This is my 11th ISTE and I love it all!
Julie Lindsay, ISTE Board member, Australia.

Kecia Ray EdD said...

Julie said it all! I can only add that the more you give the more you get out of ISTE. Participate in a SIG or join and affiliate to become an active member of ISTE. I've been a member since 1988 and every year I've grown as a professional as a result of my ISTE friend network. See you at ISTE13! Yell HI KECIA if you see me out an about so I can get to know who you are!

Kecia Ray
ISTE President Elect

Jessica Allen said...

Kecia and Julie,
Thanks so much for your feedback! The #newbies appreciated your feedback and what was great was that it echoed the feedback I was receiving from the former ISTE attendees at my school! We'll be sure to look for you both while we are at ISTE13!

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