The buzzword to describe the expo hall inside the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center during ISTE 2017 is, perhaps, predictable.
With 572 exhibitors and a nearly 15,000 in attendance, it’s a given that the expo hall draws a crowd. Every presentation, giveaway and game was standing-room only this week as representatives explained how their solutions can fit into school districts’ curricula and operations around the world.
Most attendees say they enter the 229,000-square-foot expo hall with specific expectations, but they’re open to new ideas. “We’re a 1:1 campus, so I’m just seeing what’s here,” offered Rachel Boyd, the digital learning specialist for Klein ISD in nearby Spring, Texas.
ISTE conference enthusiast, like Shaunta Ford, a technology teacher at Berea City School District in Ohio, was headed to the Google booth as one of her predetermined destinations. But she was more than willing to stop to follow her curiosity along the route.
She has plenty of company. Overheard between the aisles: “I’m here to visit all the start-ups this week.”
Likewise, Denise Salmon, the media specialist for Crestview Elementary in Frenship ISD in Lubbock, Texas, arrived with her spinner wheel briefcase and a layout of the expo hall. Her destination: Microsoft classes and vendors who do business with her school.
“We recently bought a 3D printer, and I want to ask them for some hands-on demos,” she said.
As a first-time attendee, Elpha Sprott-Mussington, the principal at Hillside Christian School in the Caribbean town of Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, was patient waiting for her turn to get information at Veative Labs. “There’s a lot of creativity here to spike learning,” she said of her first impressions.
Verna Beale, the IT field services manager in the Shelby County Schools in Memphis, Tennessee, has a more narrow focus. Her role is to support educators, which is why she made time in her schedule to visit the expo hall to check out new security features. But anything that helps incorporate technology in the classrooms fuels her interest, too, so she had no hesitation in grabbing a chair at the IXL presentation.
But even with the best of intentions, Boyd had an all-too-familiar mission during her visit: “At this moment, I need to find my friend!”