ISTE 2010 attendees. First of all, if you're not going - follow the hashtag #iste10 and #iste2010 on Twitter to grab the ustreams and freebies that will inevitably come your way. My firs #necc was attended that way. (Pre-twitter, though!)
This is a camping term but it has great value here. If you can be as autonomous as possible, you'll be better off!
1. Pack your food and water.
The lines are long and the food is expensive. You'll be busy. The best advice I can give you is to pack in your food and drinks. When we had ISTE in DC last year, we went to the local store and picked up drinks and snackbars for the day. You just never know when you won't have time to eat or when you have a choice between a two hour line to eat or a one hour session that is really special! If you've gotta have Starbucks, buy a cold one and put it in your bag! Keep at least two bottles of water with you in your laptop bag. (Rolling laptop bags will be best!)
2. Pack your wifi
Last year, Jim Gates bailed me out when the wifi crashed.
WiFi at ISTE is like chocolate at a wedding shower- there is never enough to go around. This year, I have my mi-fi. If you don't have it, that is OK, try to get the wireless but don't get so hung up on it that you cannot function without wireless. It WILL go down.
3. Pack your chargers
If you need it, don't count on being able to find an electrical plug. They get better every year, but still having that Power Monkey or charger serves you well.
4. Pack your schedule
Schedule ahead of time as much as you can! Know where you want to go. Every year I reach a poing where I cannot think. It helps to have already put the items on my personal calendar that I want to attend. Usually I put it together and print it out!! (Just in case the charger or the wifi or the cellular service doesn't give me access to it.)
5. Clear Away from the Packed House
OK, this one is just for me. I'm a country girl and enormous crowds pawing for a morsel at the hors d'oeuvres table just doesn't appeal. One of the most fun times I've had at iste was an impromptu dinner with just the random people who happened to be around me when we looked at the Atlanta Aquarium and just said we couldn't handle it! Of course, if everyone follows this advice (they won't) and it is clear - head on in. Just think there is room for a little quality of life.
6. Pack in Your Shoes
I'm got a busy schedule and have to dress up every day but Saturday. But I promise you will see me in my running shoes. When I get to my room, I'll change into my nicer shoes just so I don't offend anyone! ;-)
My first year at ISTE, I blistered the bottom of my feet so badly that I couldn't walk for four days and had nerve damage. I'm not kidding - you'll walk A LOT! More than you can imagine. So, pack your tennis shoes and wear them the whole time. If you cannot, the Band Aid Friction Block and/or liquid bandaids WORK WONDERS. I have both and since I found that handy tip, I have said by bye to blisters.
IF you cannot walk you cannot see the sights!
7. Pack in the People
We all have friends we miss and haven't seen. Spend time with them. But also make sure you take time to meet new people. Spread out and pack as many people in as you can. Take plenty of business cards or just a index cards with your blog on it. If you're planning to "meet" someone and want them to remember you - write a hand written note on the card about what you're hoping they'll take away from it. (I always appreciate and come back to these!)
I'll also give you a tip. Often if I meet someone at breakfast and see they have a presenters badge and they are doing something cool I can go to - I go -- relationships matter. Additionally, I look for people who I know will inspire me whether or not the title of the session appeals to me. Also, I'll go to a few sessions that just relate to what we're doing at school and the next step for us.
Don't overdo it but also remember that there are great sessions every day of the conference so push yourself to attend. I'm always very careful not to overdo myself in the evenings and sometimes just go back to the hotel. It is not to be rude - but I am just usually zonked from the day and have work to do on the next one!
8. Pack in and Pack Out
Sometimes the best gadget you bring to a conference is the one you leave at home! I'm not kidding. Bare essentials. Take what you need and the chargers. I have my Kindle (for the plane), iTouch (for schedule), MiFi (backup wireless) and small Camera for photographs and video as well as my laptop. Each person is different.
9. Pack in the Manners
We'll be in close quarters and by Wednesday a lot of us will be tired and (despite my advice) blistered and a little bit cranky. Sometimes people come in cranky because they are jet lagged.
I always feel sad for those who have a need to "show out" because I think often they would never do that under normal circumstances. I try to give them distance and not be sucked into things. Drama can happen but I'm not there for the drama, I'm there to learn something. I'll share when it is my turn, but otherwise, I pray to never get so carried away with myself that I won't listen to what others have to say. If I'm busy thinking about what I'm going to say next, I'm not listening. We're not in competition - this is the time for cooperation and learning.
So, be among the gracious, kind people who will be the salt and light of the conference with their manners. Some of the happiest moments at conferences are when these things happen, like Jim Gates helping me with the wifi -- a kind person in the exhibit hall who had just been where I was going and walked me there.
Let's make this conference a place where we smile and pay forward random good deeds to one another and not look to see if they have any ribbons on their namebadge first.
10. Pack in the Thank You's
There are a lot of people who work hard to pull together this conference. Many say "yes, but it is there job," well there are many who volunteer and it is not "their job." They just do it. The presenters don't get paid unless they are doing a workshop and even then it is barely enough to cover the registration fee. Pretty much most people there presenting except the spotlights and keynotes are there on their own dime or giving up vacation time or sacrificing their summer. Most presenters are thrilled to do it but it is a challenge.
So, when you like something - thank a person. When a volunteer is helpful -- say thank you! If someone does a great job of including people who can't be there in person -- thank them! Let's make this a place where we learn but where we also learn what it feels like to be around people who are truly some of the best on the planet with technology! We're blessed to be there if we can attend and we're also blessed to be in a day and age that we can also still "look in" if we're not there in person!
So, if you are going to be there and care to pack me in your schedule - I've listed them below.
Citizenship, Gridizenship: Online Community Building for Self-Sustaining Safety [Formal Session : Panel] (50012999)
Scheduled: Monday, 6/28/2010, 8:30am–9:30am (with internet safety expert Anne Collier, Bron Stuckey, and Marianne Malmstrom)
MF343L Digiteacher Workshop: Digital Citizenship within a Project-Based Learning Environment [Workshop : Lab-Based] (50085973)
Scheduled: Monday, 6/28/2010, 12:30pm–7:30pm (I think there is still room in this session - it is a project based learning session and we're excited! If you're not there, watch my blog for some streaming and elluminate sessions during that time frame.
BW301 Wonderful World of Wikis: Practical Classroom Wikis for All Ages [Formal Session : BYOL(s)] (50011006) (This is already sold out! Adam Frey (wikispaces co-founder) and I do this together) - Who has heard of such?)
Scheduled: Wednesday, 6/30/2010, 8:30am–9:30am
Seven Steps to Flatten Your Classroom (Julie Lindsay and I)
[Formal Session: Lecture]
Wednesday, 6/30/2010, 10:30am–11:30am
Learn how to globalize your classroom -- get there early for the intro where the audience participates! Going to be fun!
BW317 Bookmarks, PLNs, and More: Supercharge your Learning, Teaching, and Research [Formal Session : BYOL(s)] (50088331)
Scheduled: Wednesday, 6/30/2010, 1:30pm–2:30pm
Note: Julie Lindsay is leading this session as I have to get the last flight out that will get me home Wednesday night for a commitment at church Thursday morning -- but it is going to rock.
On a personal note:
Hope to see some of you there. I will say that I'm a lot more exhausted than usual due to quite a few heavy deadlines this week and children at every camp imaginable. I've climbed mount laundry more than a dozen times it seems in the past two or three weeks. All I can do is give my best! I'll see you soon!