This post is a continuation from my last post where I listed 6 things you need to know to prepare for a successful ISTE experience. Here’s the final four …
7. Attend the closing keynote
After hearing people talk about education for four days straight and walking between the sea of sessions, it’s easy to make the decision to ‘skip’ the closing keynote … after all, haven’t you heard it all already? My suggestion is don’t miss it. Well, not if this year’s closing keynote is as good as last year’s and I reckon it could be. This year’s closing keynote is about project-based learning and how it can get kids actively involved in solving some of the world’s biggest problems. I reckon that sounds pretty cool!
Last year the closing keynote was opened with amazing SLAM poetry by students of Chris Lehmann. They just were so cool, it got us all really enthused about our role as educators and energised us as we were all at our most exhausted, haha. Then we had the wise words of Chris himself – so cool, I wish I worked at his PBL school the Science Leadership Academy in Philly. He really is inspirational and you know how I hate using goofy words like that.
8. Make some time to spend at the bloggers lounge and the poster sessions
Often when you’re at a huge conference you find yourself rushing madly from one session to the next with little time to stop and socialise. I think that at ISTE you really do have to take some time to stop – if nothing else, just to rest a little! Whilst there are a LOT of big names in education to go and see at ISTE, I highly recommend stopping by the poster sessions that run all day long. These are usually presented by students and teachers who have a project or an idea that they are really proud of and want to share with others. Last year I was glad that Andy and I spent a bit of time walking around the different poster sessions, checking out what was on show. I met some great teachers and their students and was blown away by some of the work that both have produced. What you’ll find is that these are people taking real edu risks and being super innovative in ways that maybe some of the better know edu-stars can’t do anymore.
The next place to visit (and which last year was within spitting distance of the poster sessions and this is why I lump them together) is the Bloggers Cafe. This is another one of the ISTE Unplugged installations that gets to the heart of what a lot of ISTE is about for many of us edu-geeks. I still laugh thinking back to Andy pointing at all of these people and naming them with reverence – I had no idea who they were but knew they must be super important if Andy held them in high esteem. It is only with another year of edu-geeking under my belt that I can appreciate the calibre of the educators we were kinda hanging out with. It was really cool to be able to go up to someone like Kevin Honeycutt and say hello in person without feeling like a complete n00b. The premise of the Blogger Cafe is that discussion is open and lively … it is meant to be a place where people start putting new projects and vision into practice. In the ideal world it is the hub of praxis and is therefore the opposite of the more formal ISTE presentations where the audience receives wisdom from an edu-sage and then takes this home to put in practice later. I must add though, that the Blogger Cafe can be super intimidating. It’s hard to break into a clique at the best of times, and when the clique is some of the ‘top’ edubloggers from around the world, a person can be forgiven for just standing back and staring. I hope that I have the guts to go and say hello to the people hanging out in the BC, even if it’s just some other edu-blogging newbies like me. The best bit about ISTE is the connections you make (or solidify) and the evil genius-like plotting that results as a consequence, haha.
9. What tech should you bring?
I’m going to be honest here. If you don’t bring an iPad with you, you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb. Last year I took my Macbook pro thinking I would look super hipster but boy how wrong I was! I’d never seen so many iPads in the one place … they were still relatively new in Oz 12 months ago. I imagine this year will be the same. Regardless of what you bring, you should be able to jump on the wifi easily and if you can’t don’t worry because everywhere you turn you will find an ISTE volunteer eager to point you in the direction of an ICT emergency booth … I was happy with my iPhone tweeting all of my notes using the official hashtag. I then promptly forgot to back those tweets up with some cool tweet-caching site … and lost a bunch of notes like a complete loser. So yeah, bring something portable that can get on the wifi.
10. Make some time to party after-parties
ISTE doesn’t finish with the final speaker each day, nope it goes right into the night. There are a variety of events that you can attend in the evenings. You probably have already received an inbox tide full of emails about the hippest ISTE after-parties to attend. I have registered for tix to the big Karaoke party but from the looks of the list I’ll be surprised if the roof-top doesn’t collapse under our weight … there’s thousands of people attending! Even if you opt not to attend an ‘official’ event held by a sponsor or some other edutech company, you’ll most likely find yourself being carried out on a PLN tidal wave to pubs, clubs or restaurants. ISTE can be massive for those people keen to let their hair down.
Because I’m travelling with my family … and because to be honest I’m a bit of a wall-flower … I doubt I’ll be out late in the evenings. Last year it was great to meet so many edmodo people from my network and I hope they have another party this year. I guess you need to find a balance – and remember to eat! If you don’t you could find yourself feeling pretty gross come the 27th June.
11. And if you can’t make it to ISTE12 …
This year there are literally hundreds of Aussies heading over to ISTE12. Last year there were a few that I either knew or met via twitter – I even heard one guy speak up in a session and I nearly snapped my head trying to ‘spot the Aussie’ … it’s always nice to hear our familiar nasal twang when you’re overseas! I’m pretty keen to make sure that those people who can’t make it to ISTE this year (but who I know will be following our adventures and will most likely head over to #ISTE13) are kept up to date with the craziness of ISTE through the eyes of Aussies. I plan on making a daily vodcast to sum up my experience of ISTE and also the experiences of some of my fellow-Aussie travellers. I reckon that will be heaps of fun. I kinda haven’t done anything like that before but I’m sure there has been similar things done in the past. I have big plans for giving you all a tour of the toilets and the registration desk … you know, all the fun stuff 😉 I haven’t come up with an awesome name for the show so if you can think of anything better than the Down-Under Daily (which sounds completely suss and therefore may be the winner) post a comment below. Oh, and if there is something that you want me to document via video at ISTE12 just let me know!
So that’s my list of hot tips for ISTE12 … maybe nothing new for those of you who are old hats at epic edu conferences but maybe something in there for those of you who are ISTE virgins. It’s going to be a manic four days and I do hope that something or someone really challenges my thoughts about education and forces me to do an about-face. I love that kind of thing. I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars and hours of my life just to hear the same old stuff that I can get for free from twitter 24/7. ISTE12, you’ve been warned!