I met up with Sue Levine upon my arrival in Philly. Sue allowed me to room with her at the Home2 Suites right across from the convention center, and it was divine! Almost a full kitchen in our room, Sue especially took advantage, storing all kinds of items to create smoothies, snacks, and more. We each had a thermostat to control the room temperature where we slept, which I very much took advantage!
Favorite Events (How do I decide?):
- Numero Uno on my list was the #DENisTen evening event held Monday at the Lucky Strike Bowling Alley in Philadelphia. It was great to connect with so many fanatical Discovery Education Network friends. I had to choose between this event and the Google Mixer (Google Certified Teachers only), and I finally opted for this one since I will be attending the DENSI2015 (Discovery Education Network Summer Institute) next week. It was not a mistake. I dropped by the Google booth in the exhibit hall several times to connect and take in mini sessions, and I also visited the Google Tools Playground. Hate I missed reconnecting with my GTA cohort though. Right after visiting the #DENisTen gang, I went over to the Hard Rock Cafe for the Tweetwood Mac get together, featuring Kevin Honeycutt‘s band and plenty of live music, dancing, karaoke, and connecting with even more friends. It ran a close second to the DEN get together as a favorite. After munchies from both of these gigs, I didn’t even need a supper.
- Each morning a gang of us showed up at the Down Home Diner in the Reading Terminal Market. Orchestrated by Kevin Jarrett, we had anywhere from ten to fifteen meet up each morning over there for breakfast. My northern friends were astonished at my choice of “grits and eggs” for my breakfast fare, but not nearly as much as my southern lilt. It was a great way to start each day of ISTE.
Informal Learning Highlights
So much of what draws me back to ISTE each year has to do with the depth of informal learning that happens. There are so many impromptu opportunities to gain at this conference from conversations, birds-of-a-feather, walks to and from sessions, posters, even standing in line one can engage in meet-and-greet style learnings. The bloggers cafe was a rocking place to meet up as well. I choose this place for both the opening keynote featuring Soledad O’Brien and the Tuesday Keynote, just so I could bounce ideas off people as we watched. Even connecting with the #TLNews folks for their live broadcast from ISTE’s PLN Lounge (another informal gathering spot) was a smash in my book. I reconnected with so many friends–far too many to name without leaving someone out.
- This year I had so much going on at the homefront that I couldn’t get to ISTE early for any of the pre-events (like the Hack-Ed event and the Mobile Learning gig.) Both were said to be extremely dynamic, so I am disappointed I missed them.
- This is not really a regret, though I have read from several in my PLN that it was a waste of time–the sessions that featured tool after tool after tool. I have to confess half of these sessions did not impress me, but I do love to hear certain folks at every conference (i.e. Kathy Schrock, Leslie Fisher, etc.) and so I purposefully attended them to be wowed by something new, build a little gadget lust, and be entertained by good speakers–both of them ALWAYS manage to engage me. If I’m feeling tired, I know these people can rejuvenate me. So guess what? I’ll attend their sessions next year too.
- Ignoring the Exhibit Hall – I didn’t spend hardly any time in the Exhibit Hall this year. The ISTE Expo definitely catered to those looking for Learning Management Systems–there seemed to be a plethora of those–many I’d never heard of before, as well as the typical swag and exhibits the featured small classroom setups. I sat through only one, but made sure to visit a few vendors that I use regularly in my school library. I missed getting trinkets, pens, buttons, candy, and other fun gadgets that I usually bring home to put in prize packs for teen read week. Shame on me. I only brought home two t-shirts, and I didn’t get either one in the Exhibit Hall. I needed some of those freebie tshirts for my upcoming Denovator Faire at #DENSI2015 (which I will likely blog about next week.)
- I didn’t take near enough photos. I really thought having my phone with me would make me take more. Oh well, #fail.
- There are some who confess they never attend a single concurrent session, banking on the informal gatherings, poster sessions, special interest groups’ gatherings, and more to provide where many find sessions lacking. I too value those informal areas and groups for learning. But I am nerdy enough also to utilize the ISTE planner and read through sessions, selecting ones that appeal to me based on content or knowledge of a speaker or panel. Some of my favorite speakers this year were in “ticketed” type sessions, so I missed them in sessions, and instead tried to follow them and interact in the informal spaces instead. Others I found provided many conflicts in my schedule, forcing me to pick and choose.
- My absolute favorite session without a doubt was George Couros’ session “Developing the Innovator’s Mindset.” A packed room received a heartfelt session, and George’s passion showed throughout. He pointed users to this link, and the posts he references are very much worthy of a read! The session was amazing, and I am not lying when three or more times his presentation brought tears to the eyes of attendees momentarily. It was emotionally moving several times. He was fascinating and thoughtfully engaging. Spot on with his message and presentation.
Best New Tool I learned about:
One that is coming soon, MotionSavvy – I am speechless and cannot wait to share this with some friends and teachers!
Chemistry4D – an amazing tool that uses Augmented Reality to show/teach chemistry and the periodic table of elements. Freaky!! I first saw it in the Librarians Playground, but then saw it demonstrated several more times in sessions and in informal spaces. COOL.
Best Tool Attendees Brought to ISTE:
The selfie stick was seen throughout the conference over and over. My own roommate Sue Levine had one and used it QUITE a bit to capture “selfies” (which were renamed “us-ies” and “Weesies” by Leslie Fisher during ISTE 2015, and she also renamed the selfie stick the “narcisstick.”) While the name calling by Leslie was funny, I found myself captivated looking at the many photos in my friend and roomie Sue Levine’s timeline on Facebook. I reckon I’m a sucker for it as well.
Until next year….I hope to make it to Denver in 2016. I am enjoying reading the many ISTE 2015 reflections and rants. What was memorable to one seems to be a complaint to another. Isn’t it always that way?