ISTE 2014 Underground
7/30/2014 By: Chris Aviles
Sometimes the best part of ISTE isn’t what happens on the keynote stage or in official
This summer, with over 16,000 other
attendees, I made the pilgrimage to
the Georgia World Congress Center in
Atlanta to take in the edtech event of
the year: ISTE!
By far, the best part of attending
ISTE is the people. Meeting with other members
of your Personal Learning Network (PLN) is
awesome and adding new members to your PLN
is the name of the game. Outside of networking,
some of the other amazing parts of ISTE may not
be as well known to the average ISTE attendee.
Beyond the Hollywood keynote speaker, here
are the best parts of ISTE that often fly under
1. Ignite Sessions: Presenters have five minutes
and 20 images to tell a story about a person, idea,
or product that has ignited their passion. The
excitement is contagious, so it’s hard not to leave
an Ignite Session feeling like you can change the
|Hall Davidson, Director of Discovery Educator Network, participates in an impromptu discussion in the open spaces at ISTE.
2. Playgrounds: Playgrounds allow you to get
hands-on experience and try out some of the
great edtech ideas you have been hearing about.
After learning about 3D printers, I was thrilled
to finally get to play with one! It’s like having
technology and ideas in action right at your
finger tips. The Playgrounds are great.
3. Lounges: Whether you go to the Bloggers’
Cafe, the Social Butterfly Lounge, or the
Newbie Lounge, the Lounges are a great place to
recharge, meet up, and network with your fellow
4. Poster Sessions: Presenters are given
two hours to demo a topic they’re passionate
about. With so many booths and multiple
presentations all happening at once, Poster
Sessions have a very unconference feel to them.
You can come and go as you please. Groups are
often small or sometimes even one-on-one.
These sessions are a great place to
explore many different ideas at your own
5. Hack Education: Hack Education is the
free, all-day, unconference event held the
day before ISTE begins. Several hundred
participants got together for a great day of
6. ISTE: After Hours: There are a lot of
places to explore after the official ISTE
events close for the night. Many vendors
sponsor social events with free food and
drink for anyone who is interested in
attending. Similarly, many PLNs pick a
place close to ISTE to meet up and talk
about their day’s experiences. Make sure
and plan to attend as many after-hour ISTE
events as possible. They are tons of fun and
by far the best place to network. You can
sleep when you get home!
If you’re planning to attend ISTE 2015
in Philadelphia, make sure that you keep
these events on your radar. They just might
be the best part of your ISTE experience!
Chris Aviles teaches English at Barnegat
High School in Barnegat, New Jersey. He
presents on education topics including
gamification, technology integration, BYOD,
blended learning, and the flipped classroom. Follow Chris @techedupteacher