ISTE officially kicks off today after a few days of kick of pre-events. I have mixed emotions about the event. Part of me would love to be in San Antonio, hearing about the latest and greatest ways to infuse technology into my instruction. The other part of me still asks the question I asked a year ago “Should there be an ISTE?” I will be following ISTE 2013, from my home. I could not find it in my personal budget to travel to San Antonio and wife and three children miss me enough during the school year. My district was kind enough to pay for me to attend out states equivalent to ISTE, MACUL, so I am feeling up to date and connected.
WHAT I Will Miss:
- Personal Connections: I value personally meeting educators I follow on twitter, and authors whose books I read. The following connection because real. I value all these relationships. For me this was the most powerful part of attending MACUL and meeting my #michED PLN. Whether it is seeing them present, a passing conversation in the hallway or a reflective meal, these face to face meetings are the most powerful.
- Presentations on TEACHING: I always benefit from hearing from other teachers about how they teach. It is valuable to hear how teachers use tools in their classrooms, especially when they discuss the pitfalls and learning moments they experienced in their instruction.
- Time to reflect: For me the most valuable time at any conference is the time it gives me to actively reflect on my teaching practices and how they can be improved in the future. After hearing a powerful presentation it helps me to think about my practice and how I can incorporate new techniques into lessons.
I hope that my twitter PLN will keep me updated on these aspects of ISTE.
What I can do without:
- Product centered presentations: New tools are fun to learn about and it is hard to keep up with all of them, but I want to know how it will help me teach and my students learn. I want practical applications for my teaching. I don’t want to pay to hear a sales pitch. There are many websites and twitter feeds that focus on new tech. I know many teachers love these presentations but ask yourself, HOW is this going to improve my teaching?
- Crowds: 13,000 expected in San Antonio. WOW!! I learn best in a small group and being allowed to try things hands-on. I tend to be shy and get lost in a crowd. This is why Edcamps ate more for me. A sit and get lecture is not how I teach or learn. I can imagine the best presenters will be forced into this large lecture hall presentation environment.
- Sponsors SWAG: Sure I would love a new Microsoft tablet or free access to a pay website. How will my students benefit? Not too much. The purpose of the SWAG is to influence larger purchases. I don’t have the deciding power for these purchases in my district. I feel the sponsors money could be spent in better ways. How about helping subsidize teachers travel/ attendance to the conference? (Sure doesn’t help my crowd issue)
I wish all of you lucky enough to attend #ISTE13 a wonderful conference. Remember to share your learning with others because that is where it has true value. I hope to hear all about your experiences.