Let’s face it, the best thing about the ISTE conference is sometimes the most challenging. It’s big! Big means lots of things to see and do, many people to meet, and a tremendous number of learning opportunities to soak in. It also means there will be crowds, lines and overstimulation for some.
That’s why we’ve built in ways to avoid some of those drawbacks and can offer strategies for dealing with others. Here are seven ways to cope with the scope of the largest ed tech event in the world.
1. Consider an alternate keynote experience.ISTE keynote speakers are always intriguing, visionary figures, and they tend to draw a crowd. In fact, there isn’t a conference center anywhere that can accommodate all the attendees who want to see the keynoters. This year, leading scientist Michio Kaku will be no exception. So if you’d like to see him live on stage, get in line for the 5:45 p.m. event early.
If you’d rather watch from a more intimate setting, head over to the Four Seasons Ballroom to see a simulcast of Michio Kaku’s speech. You won’t miss the chance to see him in person. After the speech he’ll join you for a Q&A and book signing. And, as an added bonus, those who watch from this room only will get a behind-the-scenes look at the keynote production before the event.
If you just want to watch the talk and don’t need to see Kaku in person, hang out in the PLN Lounge or Bloggers’ Cafe to watch the keynote on a large screen. You can meet your friends there or come alone and meet new people. Either way, the lounges offer a great relaxed community atmosphere.
2. Watch a simulcast of your favorite sessions. Speaking of simulcasts, there are a number of popular sessions, including all three keynotes, EdTekTalks, and some popular lectures and forums that will be broadcast live in the PLN Lounge and Bloggers’ Cafe. Check the Pocket Guide or the mobile app to find out which sessions will be simulcast.
3. Give yourself plenty of time. Even if the Colorado Convention Center were empty, it would take some time to get from one end to the other. But it’s not going to be empty. Not by a long shot. It’s going to be swarming with all sorts of passionate educators, and it’s going to be filled with distractions. If there’s a session you just can’t miss, estimate how long you think it will take to get there, and give yourself twice that amount of time.
4. Be open to serendipity. Veteran conference-goers will tell you that it’s common to get sidetracked on the way to a session or event because you run into someone you wanted to talk with or were tempted by some intriguing demonstration. If this happens to you, go with it! There are plenty of right choices, so allow yourself the freedom to change direction.
5. Don’t fret if you missed something. If you do miss something you wanted to see because the room filled up or you ended up going to something else, check the mobile app to see if your session is available to watch on demand. Also, there are many sessions on each topic, so you’re bound to find something similar that fits your schedule. Use keyword and filter search in the mobile app to find another session. Many presenters have attached resources to their session profiles in the mobile app and conference website. Add resources to your digital tote from sessions you attend and ones you miss.
6. Have a Plan B. If you can’t get into your session and you suddenly have an hour with nothing planned, take in one of the many activities that are always available, such as playgrounds, posters or the expo hall. The expo hall alone offers countless learning opportunities. Many vendors offer sessions on how to incorporate their technologies into the classroom and are always willing to answer questions and offer demonstrations. In addition, you can watch the Ed Tech Start-Up Pitch Fest, where developers pitch their ed tech ideas and the audience votes on the winners.
7. Stay informed. There are lots of things that change during the conference. Follow @isteconnects #ISTE2016 and check the News & Info section in the mobile app for updates, recaps and highlights from featured conference sessions.