Tomorrow I will be at the fall conference for ITEC and I will be prepared thanks to being through this all before. I think there are some things you can easily do to be prepared when attending a conference because the learning can happen in many different ways. The following are ways that I am prepared to make my time at ITEC as effective as possible.
1. Create a shared doc or other type of file so you can share/collaborate on notes.
I always share my notes with others, other teachers I teach with and definitely the other people I attend the conference with. I think if you are part of a large group of teachers going to a conference, a shared doc can allow you to easily see what everyone is doing and learning while making sure that not everyone ends up at the same session. The shared doc can also help drive new ideas and collaboration between those at the conference and those back at school.
2. Be prepared to follow the conference on Twitter.
People tweet a lot when at conferences including what they are learning and what sessions are being great places to learn. Make sure to have your Twitter program or app ready to follow the conference without having to deal with spammers. As the tweets from the conference start making the hashtag a trending one, spambots will start flooding it with links you will not want to click. I use Tweetdeck and it allows me to easily filter out the spam. I made a blog post about this when we went to ISTE this summer and it still applies, do this and you will not have to deal with the expected headache caused by the spammers. I also made a post about some other ways you can better attend a conference through Twitter.
3. Use an IFTTT trigger to save all of your favorite tweets.
I use IFTTT to create a recipe so that each time I favorite a tweet, it is saved to a file in my Evernote notebook. This makes it really easy to go back and find those tweets that I favorited during the conference. You may find the tweets flying fast and will not be able to deal with them all, favoriting them for looking at later means you will have some good reading to do later on to keep the learning going. I have a quick post showing how you can get started with IFTTT.
4. Charge everything and bring backups.
I make sure to have my computer, iPad and phone all charged and ready to go. You do not want to find yourself without some way to share your learning or connect with others in the middle of a conference. I even have a nice backup power source for my phone so I can keep that going all day and into the night even with high use.
5. Last and most important, be ready to connect with others.
I think conferences can be a great way to connect with others so that you can always keep the learning going. I think finding a group of educators to keep you thinking and growing is important for us today, as teachers. We can not do this alone and we should not have to, making connections makes it easier to be as best as we can be. Share your Twitter name, your email, your ideas and you will find yourself connected to others who are all trying to do the same thing, be as best as we can be for students.