ISTE 2014 Reflections – Part 2: The Sessions

One thing you can definitely say about ISTE 2014 was that there was a session about pretty much anything you wanted in relation to education and technology.  From the flipped classroom to maker spaces, there was something for everyone in the large sessions and in the poster sessions.  With all of the sessions available, making use of the mobile app was key as it allowed you to easily favorite sessions to help you decide how best to spend your time.  During each session that I attended, I made sure to take notes so I could more easily reflect aftewards and so that I would have access to all of hte resources provided.  I made use of Google Docs on both my computer and iPad as well as the Google Keep app on my phone to write down notes.  Sometimes a picture was just as effective as a paragraph of notes and I am still trying to get all of my notes into one place.  For now, most of my notes and resources can be found in the Drive folder using the link below.

Link to my Drive folder full of notes and links to resources from the sessions I attended.

I made sure to attend at least two different sessions of the poster sessions so that I could see as much as possible.  I saw these as opportunities to get some information quickly and to get the resources so I would have contacts for later if I had questions or needed further clarification.  I really enjoyed the poster sessions as I think they give more people the chance to have their voice heard at such a large conference.  This is also a great first step for many educators to learn how to present to other people, something I am still working on so that I can help others more effectively outside of my own district.  I also enjoyed seeing students as part of the poster sessions as they have a voice that needs to be heard at education conferences.

Outside of the poster sessions, you had to plan carefully to get to those sessions you deemed the most important as there were many times I went to a session to only see that it was already closed.

One event that I was happy to attend was CoffeeCue put on by Alice Keeler.  This took place at 6am on the Sunday of the conference week and was an unconference type event where there was no pre-planned agenda but the topics were picked by those that showed up.  I enjoy these types of experiences as I feel they allow you to connect with others more so than going to a session where a person, or a small group of people, are in charge.  I am also a morning person so this was something that was easy for me to do.

My Top Sessions I Attended (in no particular order)

  • Tech Commandments II – The Revenge by Adam Bellow: I was very interested to hear Adam Bellow speak after watching the keynote from ISTE 2013 and got to hear him speak a few times.  This was a great session focused on what we can be doing with our students and what we should not be doing with our students in this technical age.  Adam is a great speaker and I am looking forward to hearing him speak this fall at ITEC.
  • Getting Started with Blended Professional Learning by Andrew Miller (@betamiller):  I have tried implementing a form of flipped professional development at my district but am now leaning towards a more blended approach.  There were a lot of great points made by Andrew and it definitely gave me a lot to think about as I start preparing for the fall semester.
  • Coaching for Education Transformation by a panel:  The big ideas that came out of this session did not come from the panel themselves but from the backchannel full of comments by the participants.  The panel said a lot but it was the personal experiences by those attending the session that gave me the most to reflection on as I continue forward.

Note every session I attended was a good one and I made sure to make use of the “rule of two feet” where if the session is not meeting your needs, use your feet and leave.  This is something I learned well from attending multiple Edcamps over the last couple of years.  I think many people are still uncomfortable with this but our time is too valuable to worry about what someone might think if we leave their session.  You will not always know what the session will really entail from the description so you must be willing to leave to make sure you are using your time effectively.  One person asked me to wait a second as they saw me getting my stuff together because they did not want to walk out by themselves.  Again, your time as an educator is too valuable to stay in a session that is not fitting your needs.  I even state this before any presentation or session that I lead as I believe this is too true to be ignored.

And lastly that brings us to the keynotes, which I did not have high expectations for but was pleasantly surprised for the most part. (I am sorry but Ashley Judd has not place giving a talk at this type of conference, I did not walk away knowing anything more or feeling any more prepared to be an educator today.)  Kevin Carroll and Jeff Charbonneau did a great job delivering their messages and bringing some energy back into those that listened.  Kevin discussed the power that play has in life and delivered a message that many, many educators should listen too.  We can not forget how play can help us grow, both as people and as learners.  Jeff’s message was more focused on the question, “What if?” and how  we should be asking that of ourselves more often.  His story is one that I feel some connection to, having worked at a small school and taking on roles that I did not expect, but I can not even come close to the accomplishments he has.  I am hoping they get the videos of these keynotes posted soon so I can add them to my list of videos that educators should watch.

With as many sessions as there were and as many people that attended, it may be awhile before I fully go through and look over everything.  The Twitter conversations that took place during the conference contain lots of great ideas and I even made sure to use an IFTTT recipe to place all of the tweets that I favorited into a Google Doc.  There are many gems in there that I need to look over and will come back to that in the future.  I may collect too many resources at times but I enjoy the variety of ideas that I get exposed to and this plays a big part in my goal of being in the growth mindset.



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