I attended my first ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference last week in Philadelphia. It was a great experience and I learned a lot. I will be sharing some of the resources and tools I learned about in future posts.
Here are some of my impressions and thoughts about the conference:
- It's huge. The convention center is 4 city blocks long with multiple buildings and 3 different floors. You will spend a lot of time walking and need to plan your sessions to make sure you can make it from one to the next.
- There were over 11,000 attendees and around 500 vendors and thousands of sessions. It's very overwhelming and there is way too much to do. You have to really plan your days well. It took 3 hours to go through less than half of the vendors.
- sessions can fill up very quickly so you need to have a backup plan. Some sessions are more popular than planned and were in small rooms, while some that were planned in huge rooms, drew a small crowd.
- The schedule can be confusing at times. There are overlapping time blocks and a variety of types of presentations. Some sessions require pre-registration and others are a separate fee.
+ you can learn a lot because of all of the sessions. Vendors put on sessions with ideas and tips for using their products (which was great because my wife and I have some of the products but haven't had lots of training or time to use them yet). The sessions are by well-known presenters and some not-so-well known. Some of the not-so-well known are the best. If you don't like a session, leave and find a different one that meets your needs.
+ lots of help available - there are volunteers everywhere to help you with any question or issue you may have
+ free shuttle buses to hotels
+ Newbie Lounge and newbie websites - Beth Still created a great site with ideas and tips for newbies to ISTE. I hope she will continue to do this for future ISTE conferences. There were also other sites and blogs with articles about ISTE that had tips, ideas for sessions to attend, and much more. Thanks to all of those people for sharing with us newbies!
+ you get to meet lots of new people and make some great connections with them.
+ ISTE site has a planner to help you plan your visit.
+ Presenters post their presentations and/or notes online making it easy to follow along.
+ Some sessions are video cast, so all can see, even if you can't actually attend the conference.
+ attendees tweet and blog about ISTE so you can learn from sessions you aren't even attending.
+ Philadelphia is a great city! Nice people, lots to do, and some great food! The Reading Terminal Market is across the street from the convention center and has food vendors and restaurants, like a big food court. Tommy Dinic's italian roast pork sandwiches, The Flying Monkey bakery - yum! We also tried Geno's and Pat's Philly Cheesesteaks. They were both great. And, if you like really awesome burgers, check out the Village Whiskey. Absolutely incredible.
I met some great people, learned a lot, made some great connections with other educators and vendors, and had a great time. If you have the means, I highly suggest attending ISTE. ISTE12 will be in San Deigo, ISTE13 in San Antonio, ISTE14 in Atlanta and then it will return to Philly in 2015.