Note: A version of this post was created on behalf of the AVI CHAI Foundation and PELIE for their Fellows who are attending ISTE.  Kudos to AVI CHAI and PELIE for supporting Jewish educators in this way! I can’t wait to hear more about their experiences – and yours!

This year’s ISTE Conference theme is “Unlocking Potential.”  Here are a few tips on how to unlock the potential of the conference itself!

Pre-Conference Packing

  • Dress for comfort.   And do what your mother always told you – take a sweater or a ight jacket.  Climate control in rooms may vary.
  • Wear comfortable shoes – there’s usually a huge conference center and a ginormous exhibit hall.
  • Take a stack of business cards (or your favorite way to share your contact information) and be prepared to network
  • One of my favorite technologies is Post-It Flags.  I use them to tag pages in the print program. Highlighters can also be helpful
  • Don’t forget to bring the power cords along with your electronic devices.  Oh, and this is definitely one of those conferences where people are encouraged to flip open their laptop or tablet.  The conference offers free Internet access in public spaces and meeting rooms at the convention center, except in the Expo
  • Want to make new friends fast? Bring a power strip.  It’ll come in handy!
  • Set up a social bookmarking account like Delicious or Diigo if you don’t already have one, to save resources online easily during sessions

Sustenance

  • Aspirin, energy bars, and water.  You shouldn’t go hungry – or headachy.  Lots of stimulus, irregular eating, and dry air might give you a slight ache in the noggin (leave alone all the ideas you’ll be absorbing!).  Be sure to stay hydrated.  Water is generally available in session rooms, but it’s a good idea to bring your own bottle. Throw a couple of energy bars in your bag as a periodic pick-me-up.  Remember, chocolate is a basic food group.

Planning Your Time

  • Be planful – create a conference “personal learning plan”  BUT also leave room for serendipity. Be open to meeting new people and dropping in on sessions that might not appear to have a direct impact on what you are doing – but could be chock full of mind-blowing ideas. Sometimes the best experiences are the most unexpected ones.
  • Put those Post-Its and highlighters to use and mark up your print program with sessions of interest.   Check out the online ISTE Conference program planner. Sync the planner to your personal calendar by clicking on the Export Planner link.  Don’t forget to take a look at the Expo exhibitors.
  • Get to popular sessions early; they tend to fill up quickly.
  • Some sessions will be available through video on demand;  look for the VOD icon next to program listings to see if you can catch them later in case you are torn between several different sessions
  • Take advantage of the Bloggers Cafe, Playgrounds, Poster Sessions, and Lounges.  You’ll meet great people and walk away with some great ideas!
  • HAVE FUN! And don’t forget to get some fresh air (yep, Mom is right again!)

Share, Share, Share; Learn, Learn, Learn

  • Record your notes using Google Docs and share them with your colleagues. Create short videos or podcasts and interview other educators. A great way to reflect on and digest the conference is to think out loud and share your impressions and ideas with the rest of the world.
  • Want to tweet? The ISTE conference hashtag is #iste11.  Feel free to also use #jed21 to be included in a larger ongoing conversation on Jewish education.
  • Blogging? ISTE is collecting the urls of conference bloggers here. Be sure to add your name and blog info to the list.
  • Even if you don’t tweet or blog yourself, check out what your colleagues are saying!

What’s are your ISTE Conference tips?