This June marked my first ISTE Conference. It was great to meet and re-connect with folks I know from the Interwebs, as well as have the opportunity to lead a breakout session at Leadership Bootcamp on Saturday and sit on a panel on Wednesday.
There was a lot of great learning going on, and I hope a lot of it leads to improvements in the way we teach our kids. But first, being an ISTE first-timer, I wanted to share a couple of peculiar observations I made over the last few days.
- ISTE Royalty? I’m not talking about the über-edubloggers and their enamored Twitter followers, I’m thinking about the good people I saw walking around the convention center with scores of ribbons dangling from their ISTE nametags. At first, it was 3 or 4. “Presenter,” “EduBlogger,” “Twitter…” But by Wednesday, what started as a mildly amusing trend became a downright puzzling obsession. People were literally walking around with ribbons dangling down to their knees. Between the excessive number of ribbons and the swag bags overloaded with free pens, stress balls, and other sundry vendor freebies, they looked like some overtired, sunburned elves helping Santa stage a June comeback tour.
- The PLN Workshop. Fresh from Saturday’s EduBloggerCon session in which we debated the very existence of PLNs, there were probably a hundred people or more lined up outside the “How to Start a PLN” session on Wednesday. The incredible irony was that most were staring at their iPhones or Droids Tweeting about where they were. I wanted to suggest to them that, quite possibly, the best way to start a personal network would be to put the phone away, turn to the person next to them in line, and introduce themselves.
- The Cupcakes. The only line in the convention center that was even close in length to the PLN line was the line for cupcakes.
- Backchannel Blunders. Twitter and the like are a double-edged sword. They’re great for making connections with colleagues whom you’re not likely to meet any other way. On the flip-side, though, they enable otherwise kind, regular people to put things out into the universe that (a) they would never say to someone in person, and (b) they’d never tolerate from their own students. During a couple of keynote speeches this week, we saw the best and worst that Twitter has to offer. Before any of us pop off with some scathing criticism of the person with the microphone, we should ask ourselves what we would be talking about if we were keynoting. We should ask ourselves how many sessions we presented in which our audience was busily ripping on us while we spoke. Consider – just for a second – that every thought does not have to be Tweeted.
All in all, it was a great event for me. Most of that is due to the people with whom I interacted in person over the last few days. I’m looking forward to putting into action some of the things I’ve learned and I hope you’ll share your Big Ideas from ISTE 2010 as well.