ISTE preparation

As I prepare to attend ISTE 2019, or any conference, I find myself wondering if I’m doing it right? Is there a better way to plan to attend a conference? Even when said conference is like walking in front of a firehouse?
  • I have my calendar, in fact I made a shared calendar for my Personal Learning Network. 
  • I have my resources for presentations, I’ve provided a few ways to access them. 
  • I have some sessions I’d like to attend, I find many sessions are geared toward entry to educational technology. 
  • I have my social meetups planned, it really is more like I signed up for everything and will go along with what others are doing.
  • I have people I want to meet, it’s not a strict list but it contains members and coaches from my new Google Innovator cohort. #LON19
Am I missing something?

Was there a better way to do this?

My friend @InnovativeEdu shared a few blogs about attending ISTE:

  • Worry less about what you will "do" and more about what you will "be" at ISTE
    • This was very influential to me last year. It focused me to consider how I’m sharing what I do with the world. I’ve been focused on sharing with my local community of educators in New York City. But hadn’t considered how I’d share with the global community or even who I’d present myself as. What was my story? I was inspired to create clayCodes.org and this blog to better share information. I took away from this article the need to brand myself. I’m still searching for a logo, I’d love to have stickers, but that will come in time. 
  • Where have all the Powerful Ideas Gone?
    • I was struck by how similar ISTE San Antonio ‘17 was to the ISTE Chicago ‘18 I attended. Granted it's only a year but a lot can be done in a year. I found myself nodding at this post as I read it. The dumbing down and simplifying of things, like code, provides a great entry level space, but where’s the transition? When and how do we provide authentic tasks with technology? I do feel some are in a low-bar loop but I’m hopeful we’ll all break out of it and soon. I’m looking forward to the Hack Education unconference for my own inquiry process
  • 12 Tips for Connecting at Education Conferences  from @InnovativeEdu 
    • I actually reflect on these tips before going to a conference. I do attend with an intention. My goal has been to influence how we automate our workflows to provide more time for engaging. The business card trick is clever but never works for me because I like to be digital. I use Haystack as my own digital business card and will often take a photo of a business card, mark on it, and store it in an album on my phone. Overall this is a helpful road-map of tips to follow. I'm still working on the introducing myself to strangers bit. It's never been my thing. I'm better with a wing-person.
These tips provide some insight into the preparation element but arent specific enough for me on all that goes into attending or presenting at a conference. So here's my thoughts about what to do before you go:

  1. Gather your resources into topic assigned online folders. Whether you use Google, Microsoft, Box, Dropbox or another cloud sharing service you want to have everything in one place and easily accessible for when someone asks you for your resources. Most conferences will take care of this gathering or session related resources for you. However there are those times that you bump into a great conversation and need a more direct way to share your work. If you use an email sharing feature for a folder of items (locked from editing) you also capture the person's email so you can be in contact. I like to gather mine on my web page to share with a wider audience but I also have my materials in folders to make a more personal connection.
  2. Check your Online presence. If you attend a conference only once a year then chances are what you posted about yourself last year may have changed. People will be googling and connecting with you. Give them the most accurate picture you can of yourself. If you have a blog or website go through your layout and materials and make any corrections and adjustments. 
  3. Social interaction is important before you go. There will be a lot of face-to-face connections at the conference offer your presence online to freshen any connections you have had over the year. Even better make a few new ones before you go and make that effort to connect at the conference. 
  4. Provide something of support to the conference community. Tweet out something that can help everyone have a great conference. You'll inevitable make digital resources to help yourself navigate the conference. Share it out. I created a map of hotel shuttle stops to help myself get around and shared it with the community hoping to help some one else. I also posted it on my website to drive traffic there in case I can help in other ways. 
  5. Create two calendars; everything you need to attend, everything you want to attend. Down time happens and you may find yourself with free time you weren't expecting. Maybe that session you wanted to attend is full or someone canceled. Have a calendar with backup options. Keep it hidden until you need it. 

As I think about what I have done and what is to come I still have to wonder if there was a more effective way to do some of what I did. (I spent a few days editing a video and then scrapped it and have now recreated it over three more times.) I think in hindsight I'll work to keep my resources more current keeping a "Conference folder" online that I can copy and remove pieces from rather than looking all over for the pieces I want to put in the folder. I can always improve on my online presence and be more social in global communities. All-in-all I think I'm ready for what's to come but will continue to make tweaks.

Check out @InnovativeEdu's blog for more insightful information: https://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/

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