Sunday, July 3, 2016

ISTE 2016 - A Denver Adventure!

I recently returned from my first ever "away" conference (i.e. out of province). I attended the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Denver. With close to 20 000 attendees, presenters & exhibitors, hundreds of sessions on all sorts of educational technology, and thousands upon thousands of people to meet...

All in all, it was quite overwhelming!

Despite the hugeness of it all, I managed to come away with a number of ideas that I'm keen to implement in my classroom, and to share with others through professional development and conversations.

One of the best parts about the conference was the opportunity to sit down and have conversations with other educators, and to try new ideas for myself. There were the playgrounds (tables set up around a theme, with the opportunity to explore various aspects), the poster sessions (over 35 booths set up to showcase excellence in educational practices), the sit and listen sessions, bring your own device sessions, and the campfires (getting together to chat in small groups about a given topic).

The campfire I attended on Gamification was an excellent opportunity to talk through some of the challenges of integrating game-like elements into the classroom in a small group, which meant we got to really share our ideas.
Also, we sat around an actual campfire ;-)

There was so much to see and do that I can't write about all of it here. Advice that I got from a veteran ISTE-goer was to pick just one or two things to focus on for the coming school year, and it's advice I intend to take! Small things, like the 5 Minutes of Creativity session I attended, will be easier to implement day to day - it's the larger, systemic changes that will take time and effort to do properly. My big goal is to really improve upon my Core French gamification plan for next year. I'll be looking at ClassCraft to help me out, and drawing on the conversations and resources from this past week.

If there is one huge takeaway from the conference, it is in something that Michelle Cordy, the closing keynote speaker said. She said, "Go home, and continue to be a connected educator. Ideas spread contagiously." As educators, we need to be ready to connect with each other, to share great ideas, and to be bold enough to try new things. I found her speech very inspiring, and from the reactions of the crowd, I'm sure others felt the same way.
Here we are doing power poses during the closing keynote

If you ever have an opportunity to attend a large-scale conference as an educator, I would highly recommend it. Not just for the content of the sessions, but for the amazing connections you can make with other people who are just as passionate about teaching as you are! I will definitely be reaching out in the future to the people I met, and I look forward to ongoing collaboration.