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Build your PLN at ISTE 2017

By Beth Still
May 11, 2017
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It’s hard to believe that ISTE 2017 is a month away! Whether you’re traveling from across town or from across the world, the one thing that makes the conference unforgettable is sharing the experience with other people.

If you’ve never been to an ISTE conference, prepare to be blown away by the sheer number of attendees. There will be around 16,000 educators in attendance! It’s easy to feel lost in a crowd that big. Below are some ideas for how to find and connect with people before and during the conference.

Join the ISTE 2017 Conference Network. This is a social network where you can connect with fellow educators. You can create or join groups that interest you, publish blog posts, upload photos and start a discussion or reply to an existing thread.

Jump on Twitter. Follow #ISTE17, the official conference hashtag. Twitter is a fantastic way to connect with educators before, during and after the conference.

Like the ISTE Facebook page. This is a great way to keep up to date on the conference as well as discover others who are going to be in San Antonio.

Attend Hack Education: The Unconference. This daylong free “unconference,” filled with stimulating conversations and networking, is not to be missed. 

Volunteer for a shift. ISTE needs your help to make the conference a success. Volunteer to help people send letters to Congress, stock shelves in the store inside ISTE Central or work with the program team to check people in for BYOD sessions. Schedule shifts using your volunteer menu on the conference website or inquire at the information booth. 

Participate in networking events and opportunities. Attend the Communities Networking Fair Sunday afternoon before the opening keynote and try out an ISTE Campfire.

Reach out to others. Don’t wait for people to include you. Find a lounge area to hang out in and strike up a conversation with someone. Ask someone to join you for lunch or a cup of coffee. They will probably appreciate the gesture and you might end up making a great friend in the process. 

Don’t over-schedule yourself. Sessions are great, but some of your most memorable interactions might happen when you’re not in a session. Don’t feel like you have to plan what you are doing every second each day.

Visit the poster sessions. This is an often-overlooked attraction, but it is a perfect place to talk with other educators – and students about fantastic projects and lessons.

Socialize. There are lots of things to do in the evenings at ISTE. There are vendor-hosted receptions as well as impromptu gatherings. Most of the receptions require preregistration, which is a great reason to follow the conference hashtag!

The best part of ISTE is the people. It’s a wonderful opportunity get to know educators from around the globe. Even if you’re not comfortable reaching out to others, I urge you to make an exception during the conference. You will never regret getting to know other amazing educators!

Beth Still has been an active member of ISTE since 2007, serving on the conference planning committee for two of those years. Beth taught high school social studies for 10 years before becoming a technology integration specialist. She is a Google Certified Innovator and Google Education Trainer who is passionate about helping educators discover the joy of being connected educators.