More than 17,000 education professionals and edtech thought leaders are set to visit the City of Brotherly Love next week. That can only mean one thing: ISTE 2015 is finally upon us.
The largest edtech conference and expo of the year has something for every attendee. Educators will discover how to infuse their classroom with the latest, trendiest learning technologies from the most revered names in education. But where do you begin?
A conference this large can be a little daunting, so we’ve compiled the following tips to help make your experience as valuable as possible:
- ISTE is a marathon – don’t sprint!
The first morning of ISTE is like opening day for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Everyone is eager to become immersed in the most comprehensive edtech conference on the planet. So many vendor displays to visit. So many old friends to catch up with. So many great presentations to attend. It can be dizzying and, eventually, exhausting. Much like Phillies fans after the big game, you’ll be ready to pass out after day one at ISTE if you don’t pace yourself.
Make a schedule or game plan before you arrive. This will help you manage all of your to-do items. Remember that you don’t have to accomplish everything in one day. That would be like trying to see all of Disney World in a day. It’s just not possible. You will have plenty of time to visit the vendors, socialize and see quality presentations to get the most out of your ISTE experience.
- The tool must always be secondary to the goal
You will come across a lot of cool new tools during your time at ISTE, but not all of them will be a good fit for your classroom. Incorporating new technology without a corresponding plan for its use in the classroom can negatively impact the student learning environment. It’s important to know exactly how you’re going to implement a new piece of technology, how it will interact with other classroom technologies and how it will yield value to your students. Doing a little research and planning before you purchase new classroom tech will ensure that you are effectively managing your class time and school budget.
- Stay hydrated
This sounds like a no brainer, but it really is a big deal. Do you live life by the coffee-in-the-morning, beer-in-the-evening philosophy? That could be problematic at ISTE. We recommend bringing a refillable water bottle to keep yourself feeing awake, refreshed and healthy during the day.
- Think socially
Utilize the social media outlets at your disposal to get the most out of your ISTE experience. Industry professionals in attendance will flood the social sphere with ISTE dialogue on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can’t be everywhere at once, but your fellow ISTE attendees will be in all of the other great sessions and presentations you can’t attend.
Curate a list of hashtags (#ISTE2015 and #edtech) to follow all of the action. Social media is a great way to pick up speaker quotes, tech innovations, best practices and event details that you would otherwise miss.
- Meet new people
This one is simple, but it might be the most important. ISTE gives you the opportunity to become absorbed in an education culture with thousands of like-minded professionals. Take the time to get to know some of them. If you are going to ISTE with colleagues, make a conscious effort to split up from time to time. You can learn a lot from interacting with peers. Their experiences become your experiences, and you just might make a lifelong connection.
Good luck at #ISTE2015! Check out what Squirrels is giving away at the conference this year (hint: it’s iPads).
Let us know about some of your memorable ISTE experiences in the comments section! What do you enjoy most about ISTE?