Saturday, July 2, 2011

Reflections On #ISTE11

Another ISTE annual conference has come and gone...

How many days until the next one?

(Something like 360...)

I was talking to some folks who are in Edtech but don't go to the conference. They were asking me about the sessions and all the great, new things I learned and saw. I had to confess, I only attended 3 sessions. One was the SIGMS Learning Tools Family Feud. (How could this be missed? This is a must attend session every year. Really, do yourself a favor and check out the video.) Another was a session done by my good friend Adam Bellow and his 10 Tech Commandments. And the last was looking at 3 types of research done on the evaluation of instructional/educational technology programs.

That was it.

I didn't see a keynote, spotlight session, model lesson, workshop, BYOL, anything. The keynotes where not by choice. There was a problem with the video/audio so I will definitely be going back to watch those.

When I explained all this to the folks they were puzzled. Why would I not go to hardly anything yet still think I had a successful conference? How could that be? Because maybe all the learning doesn't happen in the sessions....

I go to places like ISTE and other conferences for the people. I really enjoy meeting people and sitting and talking and learning, debating and sharing. Being in the Newbie Lounge or Bloggers Cafe or at a lunch counter in Reading Terminal Market, I can have as deep or more of a learning experience as sitting in Room 103BC.

I do learning 24/7. Through things like Twitter, blogs, on-demand webinars, online conferences and more, I can keep up with trends, what's new and what innovative practices are happening without having to wait for a quarterly research journal or an annual conference. Being at ISTE allows me to catch up with people who I only get to see once a year (or less). Sure, we have conversations everyday on Twitter or Facebook or other places, but it's those face-to-face interactions that are the most meaningful to me.

Plans are already underway to make it to ISTE12 in San Diego. That's a long way from the Ol' North State where I am. But I know that every mile will be worth it to share, learn and grow with and from folks from all over the world.

On a side note, one thing I did see more of this year was kids. There were students all over because there was (what seemed liked) an expanded Student Showcase. I did spend some time walking through there and listening to all the cool things kids are doing in their schools. That is one thing this conference needs more of. Kids. If there are model lessons, they should be kids involved. BYOL? Kids. So if you are going to put in for a session next year try to include kids. I know that is easier said than done with travel budgets so small there isn't any money to go across town but think about how awesome it would be to be in sessions run by kids sharing their learning and why it's important.

There is more to reflect upon. I still need to see the Opening and Closing keynote and I need to go through some of my notes and to just think about things. But I know already this was one of my favorite conferences I have been to, until next year of course.

What's your experience. Did you go to ISTE11? What did you think? If you didn't go, do you think conferences like that are still relevant? With all the place and forms learning can take on, is it necessary to even have conferences in their current form? What do you think?

Someone described the last day of ISTE as feeling like the last day of summer camp. Too true. But in away it's a beginning too...

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