Edtech conferences are a great opportunity for everyone activating in the education sector to connect and network with fellow like-minded people and take the pulse of the industry. Depending on the exact type of the event, there is something for everyone: kindergarten teachers, K-12 educators, university professors, librarians, edtech specialists, school management, you name it.
ISTE 2019 is fast approaching, and as enthusiasm levels rise, so does the pressure to see it all and do it all. An edtech conference of such high caliber as ISTE can draw in hundreds if not thousands of exhibitors and tens of thousands participants! On the flipside, it also means that attendees can easily get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of tools and new information.
But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here are our top ten tips for everyone attending ISTE this year, but especially for teachers. Follow our guidelines to make the most of your ISTE experience!
Besides packing your bags, laptops, agendas and passports, you should do what you’re always expecting your students to do — your pre conference homework:
1. Make a list of goals
To make the most out of your ISTE time, you should start with a more goal-oriented mindset. Setting goals such as “find out new ways to connect with my students” means that you will have a strong base to plan your session attendance, talk to edtech companies, and generally have a more productive time during the days of the event.
2. Organize your devices and apps
You will thank yourself for not skipping this step. Make sure you have your devices charged, whether it is your phone, tablet, laptop or all of them. You will need enough storage space for all the pictures you’ll take — and trust me, you will snap a lot of pictures. Also, some interactive sessions will require you to use at least your mobile phone. Last but not least, install the official ISTE app, the city transport app, and even a local tourist guide app.
3. Plan your sessions
There are over 1,600 sessions at ISTE this year! Frantically choosing what to attend for the day is not the best way to spend your time there. You can check out and highlight your favorite sessions via the official app or website. It’s a good thing you can filter by presenter, day, and session formats, as it makes it easier to identify the ones that matter most to you. Accept that fact that you won’t be able to get to them all and make sure you have time for breaks during the day.
4. Plan for the exhibit
Even seasoned ISTE participants have a hard time wrapping their heads around the expo area. There is just so much to see and do. However, with your handy list of goals and some patience, you can make sure to drop by the most important exhibitor booths for you. Get to know “the market” beforehand by checking out the list of suppliers, which can be filtered by product category or name of the exhibitor.
When the first day of the conference finally arrives, make sure you put on your most comfortable walking shoes and take a bottle of water with you. Besides that, you should:
5. Choose varied session formats
You can take advantage of the various session formats available at ISTE, from classroom-like Listen and Learn sessions to more interactive ones like Participate and Share or even Engage and Connect ones. A must are the Poster sessions for a hands on approach to learning new things to implement in your class. So no matter what is your preferred method of absorbing new information, you can rely on the fact that enough ISTE sessions will have you covered.
6. Take notes
During sessions, we recommend note taking as there will be a lot of information to digest. So make sure to have your tech ready, whether you use your favorite note taking app, Google docs, or other option. Get a notepad and enough pens if you’d rather take notes in the old-fashioned way, but don’t leave your tech behind. As a bonus, you get to share all the information you gathered with everyone back home!
7. Make time for live demos
The expo hall is your friend. It really is. Where else could you find such diverse and great edtech tools in the same place? However, as it can also be intimidating, so do not be afraid to ask for a demo to see how each edtech tool works and if it will work for your classroom, especially if you already have an eye on a certain solution. Exhibitors are prepared to present their products and answer all your questions.
8. Make new connections
ISTE is the perfect opportunity to meet new teachers and expand your professional learning network. So don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation, follow up with a quick Q&A after a session or exchange business cards, emails or Twitter handles to keep the conversation going. Did you know you can go on sightseeing tours while also engaging fellow teachers? Again, once you know your goals this step is easy! Make sure to highlight them in the app and register on time.
Once the conference reaches its official end it doesn’t mean that your ISTE experience is over as well. Here’s what you need to do, while looking forward to the next edition:
9. Keep only the necessary information
With so much new information coming at you, a lot of interesting ideas can be lost quickly. Go over each brochure, flyer or business card at the end of the event and keep only what is needed in a separate compartment in your travel bag. Take some pictures of those materials you don’t want to (or can’t) carry back home. After a while you’ll be glad you did.
10. Share and engage
Keep the post-ISTE enthusiasm alive by sharing what you have learned with other teachers at your school. You can organize a meeting or send a presentation with the most relevant things that you have learned. However, now you can also engage in a larger conversation on Twitter, for example, and keep the ball rolling beyond ISTE.
Meet NEO at ISTE 2019!
The NEO team will be heading to Philadelphia next week to attend ISTE 2019, between June 23-26. Drop by our Booth 900 in the expo hall at any time during the event, where we will provide insights on how to effectively manage online classroom activities, answer all your questions and showcase NEO’s newest features. We have prepared many surprises and interactive activities with fun prizes on the spot!
Ioana believes that education in action is the only way to change the world. When she is not writing about learning and ed tech, she can usually be seen reading a book and drinking lots of coffee.