ISTE is a conference that will blow your mind with awesomeness but it can also be overwhelming and intimidating if you aren’t prepared. With so many options, it’s easy to miss the things that could make the biggest impact when you return home. Here are some CUEs* for making your ISTE experience one of the best!
Before You Do Anything Else.
Review the At-a-Glance, and Program Schedule to orient yourself. Having a plan is a great way to avoid getting overwhelmed during the day, but do be flexible. Sessions fill up quick sometimes. Be sure to include blocks of down time and know that if you’re headed to one session it’s likely you’ll see someone or something along the way that will captivate you. Keep an eye out for rogue robots as well. Coding is hard. Allow time for meandering and getting inspired.
Download the ISTE 2016 Mobile App– Everything you need to navigate, sync, gamify, and stay up-to-date with everything ISTE 2016 has to offer is there. Here are the directions for making sure you don’t miss a single important announcement.
Get your group texts, social media tags, broadcast channels, etc. ready to go. There’s a larger conversation going on, so use conference tags (#ISTE2016 because why save two characters, right?) to make sure that your posts are seen and are part of the experience. If you’re at the conference and away from work, consider setting up an auto-reply so people know you’re busy getting inspired.
While Everything is in Full Motion.
Keynote speakers are always inspiring, visionary people and they do draw a crowd. If you’re planning on seeing them live on stage, be sure to get in line early! If you’re not necessarily a live, in-person kind of fan, but still want to listen to the keynote, head to the Blogger’s Cafe or somewhere else with a television. ISTE will livestream the keynotes.
If you’re here with a group, consider a divide-and-conquer strategy for getting the most out of the week. Plan times to meet at the Blogger’s Café, go out for coffee or dinner and swap highlights. Hanging out and in-person networking are two of the most valuable parts of a conference the size of ISTE. Finally a chance to meet your twitter friends, shake their hands, and notice how much taller they are than you imagined.
Highlights During the Week:
CUE STEAMpunk Playground – Tuesday, June 28, 9:30 am–1:00 pm, CCC Concourse E
If you’ve never played in a CUE playground you MUST put this on your TO DO list for the week. It’s just like being a kid again, but this time you’re playing with the best toys around. The CUE STEAMpunk playground is set up like a theme park and playtime. It’s a chance to get your hands dirty and mess around with all the cool stuff you’ve been hearing about. The STEAMpunk playground will include Hopscotch, Spheros, Lego Mindstorm, Dash Wonder, 3D Sculpting with Autodesk, PlayPiper, and Rasperry Pi. Go. Play. You can thank me when you get home and beg your school to start spending.
The Blogger Cafe
Some of the best times I’ve had at conferences are at the Blogger Cafes. It’s perfect for slowing down and meeting with like-minded, passionate educators. Like I said before, the people are what’s most interesting and hanging out with no rules dictating times, no edchat moderator pumping questions at you, and no pressure to be quickest on the draw is the best kind of passion fill-up a teacher could ask for. Who knows, you might even find your educrush bent over their keyboard. Don’t be shy, they don’t bite. Say hi.
New this year, Campfires are after-hours discussions and creativity sessions designed to nurture and move organic, small group discussions toward the actual creation of concrete plans and lessons
Explore the Expo
This thing is a main attraction unto itself and can take up the whole week on its own if you let it. A good strategy is to preview the hall online first, you can see the interactive floorplan here, and get an idea of what you’d like to hit first. Again, be sure you give yourself at least double the time you think you’ll need because there is so much to do and see. A favorite of mine is being able to put your hands on some of the latest learning and teaching technologies. And then laugh at the price tag and walk away with your free swagbag full and swinging.
CUE is hosting an Affiliate Reception- Sunday, June 26: ALL CUE members attending ISTE are invited to Pizza Republic in the Convention Center from 7:00-9:00 pm. Check your inbox for details. There will be a free gift for attendees!
Don’t forget you’re at altitude now too. Drink plenty of water to keep from getting dehydrated, use escalators instead of stairs, and tip your hotel sherpa.
CUE is proud to host ISTE once again as we do whenever the conference comes West. We played a significant role in planning the event for the last several years, provided volunteers to make it a success and continue to appreciate our role as one of ISTE’s largest and most supportive affiliates.
ISTE, like most other major conferences, has its good and bad sides. It’s easy to get caught up in complaining about the wifi or the crowded keynotes. If you’re an introvert you may want to melt into the walls and watch it all go by. What’s important is to take ISTE on your terms, see what you want to see, do what you want to do, and be the master of your learning experience. The Big Goal, after all, is finding things to bring back to that group of 30 faces that will be looking up at you come late August, early September.
*the editor thinks he’s clever