My first time at the ISTE Conference was an enlightening one. The shear amount of learning opportunities afforded to anyone in attendance was staggering, to say the least. For anyone used to going to PETE&C, I would have to estimate that this conference was at least 4 times the size of the PA state conference. Some of the biggest things I gained from attending were: the connections to new people, seeing where vendors are concentrating their focus, and learning about new professional development methods for our clients.
While at the conference I was able to meet and hear from some of the biggest names in education. This afforded me an opportunity to grow my professional network immensely. Prior to this conference, if I had a problem I couldn’t solve my network was maybe 40 to 50 people wide. After the conference it is now 100 people wide, with some of those connections having networks of over 30,000 people. Needless to say that if I have a problem I cannot find the answer to, I should have a friend that can help!
The vendor floor at the ISTE Conference was absolutely huge, with areas for small startups and teaching zones from Google and Microsoft. There was a vendor for just about anything you could want in education. Furniture, power distribution, SIS software, LMS software, curricular software, book vendors, accessory vendors, mobile cart vendors… literally anything you needed to upgrade your toolbox, it was there. One of the more interesting things about the vendors at this conference though, was that they used their floor spaces for teaching as much as they did for selling. Many offered 15 to 45 minute classes on how to use their products. In fact, that was the main focus of both Google and Microsoft on the vendor floor.
During the sessions that I attended, I learned about where the industry sees the role of the CTO to be going and ways to use social media as a promotional tool for schools. In addition, new PD methods were shared such as the unconference movement, more specifically Edcamp, and the benefits of that model. I also was able to learn about methods to better manage my support team, and how to help them be more approachable.
In summary, ISTE is a magical place, where educators from around the globe come together to learn and network with each other to try and steer the future of education in a direction that can benefit everyone in the world. The connections that I made there will continue my learning and help me better model good uses of technology for my staff and students for many years to come.
– Michael Lipnicky, Questeq Director of Technology for South Side Area School District