It is almost that time again. Time to start adding numbers to my facebook profile – from 60. Last year I was SO lucky to be selected by the edmodo team as one of their featured bloggers and my reward for blogging about edmodo for the lead-up to ISTE was a trip to #ISTE11 in Philadelphia. I almost weed my pants when I got the email from Betsy telling me I had been chosen. Mostly because I am terrified of flying and I had never been out of Australia before … oh and I knew that I wouldn’t go without Lee and the boys meaning we had to find $10,000 real quickly. I still can’t believe that was almost a year ago! The trip to ISTE was insane and as most of you know we topped it off with an epic drive from NYC to LA in nine days.
Late last year we made the decision to return to the US for ISTE12. How could we not, it’s in San Diego?! I was really surprised by how much I loved the US. In Australia we really get pumelled with some shocking stereotypes about America and American people. It was truly refreshing to have those stereotypes hacked to embarrassing bits by the generosity, sincerity, warmth and manners of the American people we met on our trip. So of course we’re going back- who wouldn’t?
We have grand plans to travel the whole West Coast of North America and nudging into both Mexico and Canada for quick day trips. At this time it all feels like a crazy dream, just like travelling to Philly and NYC did this time last year. All we have booked is our accommodation in San Diego. Apart from that we have a blank slate ahead of us. Nothing motivates you more to keep working than knowing that you will able to reward yourself and your family with a life-changing experience … with memories that will last forever. Yup, corny as a CornJack but I don’t care.
I do have a conundrum though. I really, really, really, really, really wanna attend PBL World run by my mates (SOO, they are not my mates, not even friends or acquaintances but I sometimes tweet at the BIE guys and sometimes they tweet back and I have been loving them from a distance for a couple of years now so I’m going with mates anyway, OK?) at Buck Institute of Education between 18-22nd June. When is ISTE12? It’s 24-27 June and before that we have ISTE Unplugges which is what I really, really wanna attend. Urgh. It’s all too hard. Oh, and did I mention that the PBL World stuff is kinda expensive because it is all workshops – which is excellent because you get more from a workshop doing stuff than from sitting and listening to someone Keynote. But to be honest, I want to hear the keynotes speak – they are awesome people who I know will have some wicked things to say about project-learning. I want to be there for the ‘in between’ conversations with other PBLers. It just makes more sense to go to PBL World since that’s what my research is on – there would be some amazing connections made. I think I could maybe go for the Thursday, but then what do Lee and the boys do for that day? I have to admit it to myself. I won’t be able to make it to PBL World. But I hope that the people who are there do tweet like crazy! And if you are in (or near) Napa, CA when the workshops are on I reckon you should go.
Next problem. Last year I found ISTE overwhelming, crazy, too big and chaotic. I found it a little bit anti-learning. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for being sent there (I most certainly am not and I think attending ISTE is something you kinda gotta do, it is an experience!) but what I mean to say is that just attending all of the sessions for three days straight can be exhausting and counter-productive. I want to go again because I think with the experience of a first-timer behind me I can work out how to get the most from the conference. I think.
As with PBL World, the workshops are pretty pricey and way out of my reach. I do, however, think that they would be worthwhile attending if your school is sending you. But if you’re like me and you can just cover the conference registration fee, I recommend hanging out at the poster sessions and at the bloggers cafe. Of course the bloggers cafe is going to be full of people who know each other, or who ‘know of’ each other and it might be hard for you to strike up a conversation with any of them. Maybe the best tip is to sit close enough to over-hear their conversations – jokes! I always find looking for other outsiders and starting a conversation with them – you’ll be surprised by what you can learn from a new ISTE friendship!
I can’t even remember why I was writing this blog post … I think I wanted you to give me travel tips for the West Coast of the US and maybe ask you to decide on whether I should choose ISTE12 or PBL World.
Anyway, have you been to ISTE? Have you got some tips for second-time around? Should I skip it cos it’s too big and just head up the coast to the BIE gig? Haven’t been to ISTE but wanna go? What makes you want to go there?