While I was at #ISTE2014 I was asked by several close friends, “Why do you like going and why is it so great to go?” Hopefully, this post will answer those questions. First of all, I was so excited to be at my second ISTE conference with members of my PLN that I have met over the last several years that I had to create this blog post while I was on the plane going home. Amazingly, there was so much to say that I was not able to finish it on the two hour ride. Maybe that was because ISTE 2014 covered over 50 miles of walking and interacting with an enormous amount of people; one reason why ISTE 2014 was a phenomenal event.
To put is simply, it was the ability to have Face to Face conversations with members of my PLN whom I interact with all year, that made ISTE so great. These members are people who are like-minded and passionate about education. This year I started by meeting with someone I met back in 2011, Paula Naugle (@plnaugle), who has not only been a Twitter mentor to me, but has become a close friend. ISTE2014 was special because it was the first time my Google Hangout Group, that I have met with every Sunday night for the past two years, would all (well, almost every single member of the group) be in the same physical location at the same time. Again, it is being able to actually have a Face to Face conversation with these people that makes going to ISTE so special. We have become a family, and finally the family got together.
Thursday, I arrived and met up with my roommate at the Airport. I was rooming with Jerry Blumengarten, otherwise know as @Cybraryman1 to the Twitterverse. But to our Sunday night group, he is just Jerry. From the moment we met, the conversation and adventure did not stop. After getting our bags I turned to Jerry and said, “Let’s be adventurous”, so we took the MARTA to our hotel. While on the train, Jerry started a conversation with a few people and found out that they were students, so of course Jerry told that he had a page for any subject and anything they could think of. This would be the theme of our whole trip, because Jerry does have a page everything.
After figuring out how to get to the hotel, and getting there, we met up with another member of our group, Paula. I was so happy to see her since she helped change my view of education by introducing me to all the different Twitter chats. Jerry and I then took a walk from our hotel to scout out the area and see where we would be doing the live #Satchat on Saturday. We met up with Paula again, along with a few others, had dinner and enjoyed live jazz band entertainment. (Picture)
On Saturday after two twitter chats #Satcaht and #NTChat we had some free time. There were a number of us who connect on #NJed (Kate (@KtBkr4) , Liz (@liz1544), Kyle (@kcalderw) & Bruce (@PrincipalArc) chat, so we decided to take a trip to the Georgia Aquarium. It was a little crowded, but that gave us an opportunity again to have a great conversation while walking through and seeing one the world’s largest aquariums. After that, we went our separate ways, as the conference was about to start, there were many different events, and everyone had their own agendas. That night we were able to meet up again, meet other people who we follow on Twitter, and have Face to Face conversations. (Two Pictures Vicki and Group Dinner)
I can’t stress enough that these conversations are what makes ISTE a great conference. Though by Saturday, it was getting very crowded with all the educators who would be at the conference: over 12,000. A conversation highlight happened on Saturday night when I was talking with Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) and telling her all about a great new app called Voxer. Later, on a group of us enjoyed a nice dinner out and just got a chance to have a conversation over some great BBQ food.
Monday night there was a group of us heading to the Braves game, since I am a huge baseball fan and they just happened to be playing the team I root for, the New York Mets. Before the game I met up with one of my PLN member Amanda (@amandacdykes) who is from Alabama we had a great conversation and were able to share ideas for our classroom. She even taught me about a new app called Uber, which we used to get a taxi to the game and back to the hotel. At the game I was sitting with a number of PLN members and Beth Still had a idea to bring a baseball and have everyone sign it. I am considering this my All Star PLN and placing it in a case.
After the game I met up with Jerry at EdTech Karaoke. He, of course, was sporting his cape and taking pictures with everyone. He is right, again, you need to have fun and talk with people. As we walked back to our hotel we could not believe we would be leaving the next day but we had an amazing time with one another while at the conference.
ISTE 2014, was one of the best conference experiences I ever had, I owe it to my PLN Family. Making connections and having Face to Face conversations is what makes #ISTE2014 one of the best conferences. Rooming with Jerry who I connect with on weekly basis, hanging out with my Sunday Night Google Hangout Group in person was unbelievable experience. We are more than friends we are a close family.
A few Takeaways are:
Your PLN is Family!
Don’t be afraid to go up to people you’ve only seen online and introduce yourself to them. The face to face conversations are priceless.
There are people you know nothing about but could find a connection with by talking to them F2F.