ISTE isn’t about who you know, but who you meet.
|Attendees with keynote speaker Kevin Carroll, author of Rules of the Red Rubber Ball.
ISTE 2014 may be one of, if not the, most
hyped educational conferences that I have
ever attended. The conference has lived up
to its promotional hoopla. The numbers
released on the ISTE Connects Blog are
quite impressive. There were over 16,000
registrations, participants from 67 nations, and
496,000 tweets with the #ISTE2014 hashtag.
With these kinds of numbers, and the local coffee
shops serving more than 5,000 cups of coffee, it’s
safe to say having ISTE in town is a win.
Although it was nice to have eaten one of the
14,000 popsicles handed out, it was tough getting
into some of the more popular sessions with the
big name presenters. But it’s ISTE, so there are
multiple sessions to take part in. You could also
take advantage of the real reason to attend most
conferences: the networking that takes place
outside the sessions.
The most valuable way to build your personal
learning network is through relationships. We
spend hours networking through social media,
participating in ed chats, connecting through
Google Hangouts, and pinning resources on
Pinterest to share with our peers. But at the
end of the day, having the opportunity to meet
face-to-face with like-minded educators at
ISTE is invaluable. The Blogger’s Cafe at ISTE
has become a popular hangout where you
can meet others for the first time, share your
educational experiences, and catch up with
old acquaintances. There are opportunities
for networking everywhere at ISTE—even just
waiting in line for a cup of coffee.
Here are a few things that I learned at ISTE
2014 while just hanging around:
■ The establishment of 1:1 initiatives in our
country seems to be becoming more of a
norm than a rarity. Chromebooks appeared
to be the overwhelming device of choice for
many educators I spoke with. The common
thread from most users was the device’s
speed, ease of management, and success with
the online testing pilots.
■ Chris Lehmann continues to be a favorite
presenter among ISTE attendees. His
presentation based on the Ten-Word
Statement connected with educators
and made for easy dialogue. Give it a try:
“Technology means I have to let go of….”
■ The conversation prior to the session
on “E-rate Modernization: What
Changes are Being Discussed?” was
interesting and valuable. I learned about
the #raisetheeratecap debate and had
meaningful discussions with other district
representatives on how they plan to adjust to
the possible changes to the plan. Anyone who
is involved in e-rate discussions needs to stay
involved and abreast with the process and let
your voice be heard.
■ The ISTE mobile app had a networking game
that allowed attendees to ask others for their
secret names. The incentive for gathering
secret names was competing for a trip to
ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia. While the game
was fun, networking was the real payoff. I was
a bit skeptical at first, but I actually made a
number of contacts from around the globe
while waiting in line for the keynote speaker.
I will definitely reach out to these educators
during the school year and collaborate with
my new peers to keep the conversation going.
With 16,000 educators gathered in one
location with a common mindset, great things
are going to happen. See you in Philadelphia in