Doing What Can’t Be Done Elsewhere @ #ISTE2014

This is my third day at #ISTE2014, and it has been a wonderfully engaging event, especially as I tried to stay true to one of my main goals for the year, to do what can’t be done (or is difficulty to do) elsewhere. While I have and will attend a few traditional sessions, my decision about what to do and where to go is driven by the desire to learn, experience and do things that are more difficult to do otherwise.

  • For example, if an author is speaking on his/her book, I tend to skip that because I can get it from the book. On the other hand, if I read the book and want to discuss it with the author, then I make an effort to find and connect with the author.
  • I hang out in the Blogger’s cafe because I can strike up a conversation with three or four people with different roles and from different places. While I can find that in online communities, it is really easy to do it here; and the conversations are always rewarding!
  • I go to presentations and events that reveal information that might be less known beyond the event. For example, I went to the Pitch Fest yesterday because I had the chance to hear and exciting products and services that may not even be open to the public yet. It gives me a glimpse into the #Edtech startup world.
  • I go to evening events and parties to network. Again, networking is possible online, but putting several hundred people in a pub with a shared interest, and that makes for some great networking opportunities!
  • I go roundtable discussions because it is less of a sit and get, and more of a chance to explore a topic of shared interest with a knowledgeable and diverse group of people. Again, I look for presentations that might not be available online, things that are early-stage research or emerging findings from a study that are less likely to already be published.
  • I blog. Wait a second. I can do that anywhere. That is true, but it is rare for me to have the time to do as much writing and reflecting as I can do when I take a few days away at a special event like this. And I can do it during or right after an event. I tend to schedule my day with gaps between each event, allowing me to reflect, process what I heard or discussed, try to apply it to different contexts, etc. I find this helps the ideas to stick.
  • I catch up with old friends and make new ones. I’m the first to champion online communication and community, but there is still something powerful about greeting an old friend with a hug, catching up, and building new connections through a face-to-face conversation.