Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Attending my First ISTE Conference: Thoughts and Plans

My First ISTE Conference Experience: Thoughts and Plans This was my first time going to an ISTE Conference. It was big. It was overwhelming. It was information overload. It was fun. All that said, I feel like I left armed with knowledge and tools to make a huge positive difference in my school district, specifically relating to professional development for teachers and increasing engagement for the students. 

 At times, there were so many people there, I was standing arm to arm and could barely move, mostly at the poster sessions, because others were all trying to get information and resources. Other times, people were lined up to scan the QR codes, get the links and move on. I did the same, simply because I needed to get to other tables/posters because of time limitations. 

 As with any conference, some workshops you go to have excellent information, and you walk away with really good information. Other workshops have a clever title and are just not what you expect. One thing I experienced at ISTE, is that some workshops were so popular that there was no way of getting in. If you had a ticket before hand; you’re safe. But if the workshops were first come, first serve, and didn’t require a ticket, and were popular, it was frustrating because there was no chance of getting in. As I reviewed my schedule of the workshops I signed up for and poster sessions I wanted to visit, I noticed a common theme, which are obviously specific to either what I currently do or endeavors I would like to pursue at my school. The themes specific to my job this year were BYOD, Math resources, digital citizenship, and Ed-Tech Coaching. Our district is moving forward with BYOD and I gained many insights. I teach mathematics and work with social media so I also have many new resources in those areas. It seems that other school district ed-tech integration coaches and specialists are an excellent resource for teachers thus improving student education. I really feel the students and staff in our district could benefit from this having someone serve in this role. 

Before I went to the conference, I read blogs that offered advice to ISTE first timers. The suggestions included to be ready for information overload, stay hydrated, don’t over schedule, and be sure to network. I found the tips very useful. It feels good to walk away knowing that other teachers, administrators, and school districts are going through similar situations regarding educational technology, specifically BYOD and Ed-Tech Coaches. 

There were many workshops and poster sessions where presenters discussed their experiences of successes, challenges, research, resources, and frameworks in regards to new educational trends that increase student learning and engagement and motivate and improve teaching. It’s always great to learn about new technology that can be implemented in the classroom as well. 

One day I was disappointed to miss (the very first day simply due to work/scheduling purposes as I was scheduled to arrive Friday evening and begin the conference on Saturday morning) was the day long #edcamp experience. The #edcamp seems to be a new PD trend amongst teachers and school districts everywhere, but I look forward to learning about this from a more local perspective in the future.

Two trends that I seemed to pick up on, just from being there, listening, and seeing what vendors were pushing are: standards-linked curriculums, and pushing ed-tech startups. I’m guessing these trends may either increase or decrease in popularity in the future. 

 My next step is to sit down, review the information I learned and gathered, create and manage a plan, and put the information and resources to good use.