I’ve been feeling generally inspired since leaving ISTE three weeks ago, and I’m still working on processing everything. My takeaways from ISTE don’t really focus on awesome new tech I want to integrate (though I saw some cool stuff) or amazing things that I learned in sessions (though there was plenty of that too). What I want to focus on is what I experienced and how I’ve learned to thrive at big conferences. So here’s a bit on how my ISTE 2014 experience shaped how I’ll approach future conferences (hello FETC and ISTE 2015!)
Some of my best ISTE memories didn’t happen in any organized sessions or workshops. They happened at the SIGLIB Social at Game X, playing video games and air-hockey with some of my favorite tweeps. They happened when I wandered around the Blogger’s cafe and bumped into edu-famous people. They happened when Okle Miller and I got to hang out with Andy Plemmons and his family the day before ISTE and see his amazing library. The truly inspiring thing about ISTE was that I got to hang out with all these other educators who I respect and admire. Sometimes we’d talk shop; other times we’d hang out. I loved getting to hear first hand about the amazing things they have going on in their schools and districts. Next year I definitely want to make sure that I go to the HackEd Unconference the day before ISTE – I think this will be right up my alley.
Hands-On and In-depth over Lecture-based Sessions
ISTE helped me to realize that I really prefer to learn by getting my hands dirty and exploring a topic in-depth. I can listen to people talk about Makerspace, Genius Hour and EdTech all day – but actually getting to try stuff out and see how it could apply in my school works better for me. Since I already read a ton of blogs, articles, Twitter feeds, books, etc, I felt like a lot of the lecture sessions were just telling me things I already knew. I like to dig deeper. That’s why some of my best learning times actually came from the two paid workshops I attended on grant-writing and MaKeyMaKeys. Next time, I’ll try more BYOD sessions too.
Schedule down-time to process
I found myself having to frequently skip things I had originally planned to go to simply because my brain couldn’t handle anything more. Every day, I would try to find the rare quiet corner, hook my iPad up to a charger, and spend a little time just sorting through and processing what I was experiencing. Being an introvert, making sure I worked in some alone time really helped me to deal with the over-stimulation of being around SO many people.
See cool stuff in person
I spend a lot of time looking at pictures of cool ed-tech gear, Makerspace stuff, and edu-furniture on the internet, in catalogs, on blogs, etc. But there really is something to actually get to see and touch these things in real life. ISTE was the first time I got to play with littleBits, sit at a Steelcase Verb table, check out Bretford’s latest Motiv chairs with casters, see a 3Doodler in action, play with Cubelets. All of this inspired me to start working on a project to create a Robot Petting Zoo in our library this year.