ISTE12 Conference – in Review

After reading tweets  from ISTE over the last few years I felt just a little envious of those who were able to attend ISTE. However, I was excited to be able to attend the 2012 conference in San Diego 2012 and it was great! The active use of social media including twitter, the ning, email groups etc meant that some wonderful advice was given to prepare us prior to ISTE both prior to and also during the conference. This took the edge off feeling overwhelmed and meant that more constructive use could be made of time there.

Conference key or buzz wordsincluded mobile learning, flipped classrooms, the power of networking, social learning and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). The need for or use of technology in learning was no longer queried but rather the emphasis was how best to use it to empower learning.

QR codes at the poster sessions

QR codes were highly featured around the Convention Centre –  publications, poster displays, business cards etc.

Staying connected – The wireless network remained robust despite the 16,000 or more daily users. Most participants brought their own mobile devices and a variety of personal devices was evident although iPads may have been dominant.

New terminology: (for me) “hack your education”. A Birds of a Feather session was devoted to this very topic, which I unfortunately missed. However, Steve Hargadon gave me this definition:-

Anne: there are two main uses of the word hack, and in this session we talked about both. One is the idea of “getting something done not worried about things being perfect” and the other is “circumventing the system in sometimes subversive ways.” The first is actually a more accurate use of the word in the computer world, the second the “media” use of the word. But in our group it was felt that both uses actually had some value, although the first was more accurately the idea that mirrored students creating their own educational path.

The Sails Pavilion before ISTE was officially opened

My favorite spaces at ISTE:-

  • The bloggers lounge – always a busy place and where there was always a buzz and some-one to catch up with or meet.
  • The sails pavilion – where the bloggers lounge was located, together with a number of other networking lounges eg The Newbie Lounge, the Social Butterflies Lounge, the Global Connections Lounge etc and special focus playgrounds. Next time, I would make greater use of the playgrounds as these provided time for hands on with experts. “Theywere single or multi-day events that allowed educators to ‘play’ with interactive technologies for creativity and learning”.
  • The Student Showcases and Poster sessions – there were many innovative ideas on show in this area. The sessions ran for 2 hours on a rotation basis. Students in the Student Showcases were passionate in sharing their learning. Six teachers from the Flat Classroom projects offered to host the Flat Classroom projects poster stand. We were going to rotate the time of duties, but were so busy that we were fully occupied sharing these great projects with the many people who showed interest.

The Flat Classroom Poster Session

Opportunities for Networking – for me still the most valuable aspect of conferences.

Meeting a network face to face

  1. Social events organised by many different groups in the evenings
  2. Spontaneous gatherings of small groups meeting for evening meals – loved these as they give a more intimate element to networking. I joined the Flat Classroom group, Peggy George and Kim Caise my great ClassroomLIVE2.0 friends and Gail Lovely for meals.
  3. Birds of a Feather – unconference style meetings enabled those with a common interest to meet together eg Flat Classroom Educators, Global Education, Hack education etc
  4. The queues – meeting people in the queues whilst awaiting entry to the session rooms
  5. Accommodation at the Little Italy Inn – Each morning four of us would be down for breakfast at the same time – a teacher from Alaska and two USA University lecturers who presented for a number of sessions. I really enjoyed those conversations and will continue to connect with Sharon from Fairfax Alaska and hope to collaborate on quad blogging or a collaborative project.
  6. The lounges in the “Sails Pavilion” and so, so many more opportunities.

Highlights:-

  • Networking: meeting face to face many of my virtual colleagues – ‘cementing’ the friendship and enriches further connections beyond ISTE. One very special colleague is Peggy George who has mentored me and supported me through online conferencing and the use of online tools. It was wonderful to meet her for the first time f2f. There were many opportunities to meet many educators.

Techno savvy Peggy George

  • The ‘unplanned’ learning: -Although the formal sessions that I attended were great, I loved the unplanned sessions that I chanced upon  eg learning to videoconference with polycom equipment with the pirates.
  • Informal chats with conference participants
  • The ability to take a proactive role eg present an ignite session for the Global Education meetup on the Sunday, take part in the panel with Steve Hargadon on the Wednesday afternoon. There are many more ‘last minute’ opportunities if participants missed out on the formal application process.
  • The broad scope of sessions featured and provided by globally experienced leaders in the field.
  • The mix of both formal and informal sessions with experts and practising teachers.
  • The Ignite sessions were almost ‘mobbed’ by participants. Luckily I was near the front of the mass and secured a seat for the second ignite session. Proves that people love to hear from as many as possible in a short time frame.
  • The closing keynote with Dr Willie Smits and Christopher Gauthier, Cleveland District State High School, Brisbane, Australia. This actively demonstrated the power technology can give to students, communities and rain forest habitats. Loved it!

View from the terrace of the Sails Pavilion

The Venue: was ideal. San Diego is a tourist town and a beautiful one at that. The conference centre was huge with many spaces for showcasing, presenting, networking etc. In fact, it is about to host comicon with 120,000 attendees. Participants would have got fit from the constant walking from one side to the other.
The Challenges:- 
  • Making the most of the time:- I started to use the conference app mapping out the sessions I wanted to attend, but then reverted to the paper copy program, where I scribbled notes and circled the many sessions and workshops that I was interested in. It was just easier and less stressful to grab that than pull out my iPad and check it out.
  • Interacting on twitter: The conference was a little overpowering at times, and I did not tweet out links, resources and experiences as I had hoped. Instead, I just tried to keep up with things. Next time, it will be easier to multi-task and push out the learning.
  • Choosing from the many amazing opportunities that are provided
  • Time – how can I make time to reflect on, digest the learning and act upon it?
The Takeaways:-
  • an even greater commitment to globalizing my classrooms
  • experimenting further with blended and flipped classrooms
  • a long list of tools, apps and best ways to use those apps
  • providing my students with 10 or 20% ‘play time in class’ just like Google give their employees
  • using qr codes to a greater extent in my classroom
  • pushing blogging even further for connecting and communicating.
  • trial e-Ignite sessions on eT@lking as part of the Australia Series webinars. Already a request has gone up on the Facegroup Page and there are 6 presenters for August 1st from 8-9pm. Teachmeets and sessions such as these are increasing in popularity but for those of us who live distant from these venues, the virtual environment can include us. The backchannel will give every participant a voice and a chance to ask questions of the presenters.

Opportunities for all – If you were not able to attend, you can keep up with some of the wonderful conversations, shared resources, reflective posts through twitter via hashtags #iste12 #iste2012 #sigms and more, the many blog posts written by participants, listening to the recordings of the unplugged sessions, visiting and joining  the iste 2012 conference ning.

This week is pay week and I shall start saving for ISTE13 in San Antonio, Texas, USA. The enjoyment of conferences is very much up to individuals – what you make of them, the effort you put into networking and learning etc. Do you have anything to share or questions to ask?

2 responses to “ISTE12 Conference – in Review

  1. Great blog post Anne! I enjoyed reading your perspective and thoroughly agree with your last comment “The enjoyment of conferences is very much up to individuals – what you make of them, the effort you put into networking and learning etc.” Especially with a conference as huge as ISTE!
    I was disappointed that we didn’t get to meet at ISTE but I am sure there will be other opportunities!

    • annemirtschin

      Hello Tina, now that I have been to ISTE once, I will be able to make more effective and efficient use of my time, the next time I go. I found I was so focussed on staying on track and trying to make the most of things, that I rarely tweeted. I am now saving up for ISTE 2013 and hope that I can make it to San Antonio. Would love to meet up with you there! Will you be going?

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