Monday, June 27, 2016

Heading to #ISTE2016

ULearn is the social, learning explosion of the year for me.  I love the people, the buzz, the sharing and learning.  Have you registered for ULearn16 yet? I have.  I also dreamt of registering for ISTE.  For the longest time I have followed the ISTE hype on twitter and dreamt of attending.  That dream became a reality over an online chat with friend and colleague Leigh Hynes.  Together we dreamt of attending, we registered and we are going!!!

At Ulearn I am still overwhelmed by the choices, the number of attendees, and the buzz in the spaces at the conference. How then will I survive ISTE with almost 20,000 delegates. The answer is simple, get a little help from a friend.  Fourth time attendee, Fiona Grant was a willing tutor, talking me through selections, presenters, theme and practical survival tips.

11 days out… I am very excited about the upcoming event.  I have read and researched and checked out presenters I already know and follow.  

10 days out and I enlisted support.  A wonderful catchup with the amazing Fiona Grant, and I negotiated my way around the programme, searched for presenters I was keen to connect with and favourited a range of sessions.  I’ve gone for a collaborative, networking, literacy, global connection type mix in the main.  I have also realised there is to be a whole lot of JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) at ISTE.  As I read through all the tips and hints I see that having gaps is going to have to be a reality.

I have followed the twitter feed, and connected with a number of my edu-heroes.  It really is hard to believe that I will meet and attend sessions of educators I have followed from afar since first joining twitter.  I was bold enough to tweet many of my edu-heroes and delighted to catch up with many online.  

As for connecting with buddies from NZ while I am there, we have a number of ways.  We have set up a phone text group, a whatsapp group, and a twitter back channel chat.  I have really listened to Fiona though, and realise that I can catch up with my NZ buddies anytime at night, so during the day I am on a mission to meet and connect with educators from around the globe.

I have my business cards, and stickers, already for the Expo Hall and for networking. I have comfortable clothes and shoes packed.  I will have water and snacks packed in my back pack for each day!  

What more needs to be done?

I guess it is timely to reflect on the WHO, WHY, WHAT and HOW of this adventure.  

WHO - Leigh and I are attending ISTE together. Last September we got chatting and realised we both dreamt of attending. I am extremely grateful to CORE Education for supporting me with my dream.
Ali, Mary Anne and Becky are also going to ISTE and I am delighted to have been able to connect with them in the build up to this adventure.
Fiona and a team from Manaiakalani are also attending and I have been delighted with the support and guidance from Fiona.

WHY - I touched on the WHY in the opening paragraph.  For the longest time I have followed the ISTE hashtag and annually have ISTE envy.  I have always dreamed of the magnitude of such an event. I have spoken to educators who have been and felt the buzz.  I have thought of the opportunity to connect with global educators and learn and grow.  I have also dreamed of a conference then a holiday, and honestly, what better place, than getting up to Denver, then travelling on to Canada and Alaska.

WHAT and HOW - planning, booking, saving, selecting.  The amazing Jenny at House of Travel made it all very easy and all very possible.  So a week in Denver for ISTE then off on a four week adventure.  To be away for such a break brings its own special challenges and June has been absolutely manic fitting in schools, UChoose and consultancy sessions.  August will be equally busy, but it is oh soooo worth it.

Now to really reflect on what I am most looking forward to:
  • He tangata, he tangata, he tangata - people, thousands of them…
  • Meeting and attending sessions by edu-heroes: Angela Maiers; Dean Shareski; George Couros; Adam Couros; Slyvia Duckworth; Jennifer Williams; Mark Wagner;
  • Keynotes
  • Sessions
  • Queues - yes I am looking forward to being in queues and meeting people
  • Parties - yes there are a few parties I am really looking forward to
  • Tweeting and live blogging - sharing my journey
  • Epxloring the digital totes
  • Soaking it all up
  • I am completely in awe of it, and intend to make the most of every moment…

On my return I am writing a blog post for the CORE Education blog.  My thoughts at this stage are that it will be a sort of self help guide for people looking to attend big conferences, such as ULearn.  I think it might be useful to take the lessons from my build up and apply these to our New Zealand context.  That’s my thoughts for now anyway!

My immediate thoughts are for getting well.  All week I have battled with hot and cold, rasping throat, sore ears… I have been to the chemist twice and have been swallowing vira-defence, I have nasal spray, barrier cream for my sore red nose…. So fingers crossed, they all kick in, and I am well for the Sunday morning kick off with TeachMeet ISTE on Sunday morning and ISTE ignite on Sunday afternoon, followed by the grand opening and keynote on Sunday night… WOOHOO bring it on!

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