ISTE 2012: A First-Timer's Guide

#edtech #ISTE #ISTE2012 #education

With the ISTE 2012 convention in San Diego less than a month away, it is time for me to start getting ready to attend. If you have never been to an ISTE convention you are probably thinking; "Why on Earth does Brad need three weeks to prepare to attend an ed-geek convention?"

So to you first-timers let me explain a few things that will help you get the most from an ISTE convention:

1 - GET A TWITTER ACCOUNT. There are two experiences at ISTE, one is for those who have and use Twitter while at the convention and then those that miss out on everything cool because they do not. So if you have never used Twitter, you have three weeks to figure it out. Basically, you need to know how to follow people and how to follow the ISTE hash tags (if this sentence does not make sense - then you had better get to work).

2 - PLAN YOUR DAYS. The last thing you want to do when you get home from ISTE is to find out that you missed out on THE thing that happened at ISTE this year. If you are doing step one, then this should not happen. But besides last-minute things that you find out about on Twitter, grab the schedule and plan your days accordingly. Plan some down time as well, make sure to at least spend a few hours visiting with fellow educators -- I usually get my best ideas from ISTE this way.

3 - AVOID THE FAKES. There are some educators that use ISTE as a free vacation provided by their district, they don't care about improving education through technology by getting and sharing ideas. They take up valuable space in packed seminars and workshops, collect swag from vendors they never plan on supporting, and enter every contest they can get their names into. Enough said – you know what I am talking about. They are just there to waste everyone's time so don't let them waste yours.

4 – SUPPORT THE VENDORS. ISTE is made possible by the support of the vendors that are in the trade show. There is nothing easy about selling to educators – we are a finicky bunch of people. So if something interests you, listen to their presentation and gather some information about their products. Most years, the vendors are my favorite part of ISTE. If you come across a vendor of a product you already use, make sure to stop by and tell them how much you like what they do and offer any feedback that might be helpful to them. You will make their day if you offer a compliment in a loud voice when they have other people standing around their booth. A lot of times the CEOs of these companies are at ISTE and are looking for ideas on improving what they offer. Last year the CEO of Atomic Learning, Dan Meyer, bought my son a slice of chocolate cake that was the size of his head and he is still telling people about it.

5 – SHARE. I come to these conventions to get inspired and to steal ideas. But for reasons of Karma, I also contribute back to the collective; I tweat, blog, upload videos to YouTube, etc. Do something to promote making education better through the use of technology.

6 – HAVE FUN. Some of the nicest people attend ISTE. For me it is like coming home. Connect with those around you in the workshops and seminars. Go to many of the fun events that are sponsored by the vendors mentioned in point 4.

So there you have it, follow my six points and you should have a great ISTE 2012.

See you there!