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Learn to curate ISTE 2015 from someone who's been there

By Allison White
June 15, 2015
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The countdown is on. ISTE 2015 kicks off in less than two weeks! If you are an ISTE Conference & Expo regular, carry on with your prepping plans. But if you are a newcomer, this post is for you. I began attending the ISTE conference in 2004, and each year I acquire new tips and techniques that I wish I knew before I arrived in the conference city. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your ISTE 2015 experience.

Plan ahead (but don’t obsess!)
Once you arrive at the conference, you are sure to be overwhelmed. In fact, you are probably already overwhelmed sifting through the hundreds of session listings. Take some time now to think about how you’ll manage your time once in Philadelphia. While I don’t suggest trying to schedule every moment of every day, do take some time to get familiar with all of the nonsession opportunities for learning and have a general idea of what you would like to get out of the conference.

Save, search and share
When you think of curation, what comes to mind? Museums? Digital curation? My simple definition is: organizing my chaos so I can find things, use them in my world and share them with others. Information overload will happen, and if your goal is to actually implement what you learn at ISTE, you need to stay organized.
Create your own curation system by choosing tools that work for you. I use Evernote and Google Spreadsheets. The tools you choose depend on what you are comfortable with and what kind of a learner you are (Do you learn best from audio notes, video snapshots or typed notes?) Selecting the right tool will make it easier for you to search, share and contribute.

Don’t forget about photos and QR codes
Taking photos is a great way to record and remember what you see and learn at ISTE. But don’t just take pictures. Have a plan for tagging them, so you don’t end up with a camera roll full of images that mean nothing to you once you get home. I use Evernote for photos because of the optical character recognition capabilities that allow me to search for text within images and PDFs. To keep up with scanned QR codes, e-mail yourself the link that corresponds with the code along with a brief note about your idea for implementation.

Boil it down
You will attend lots of sessions and see many new tools in action. In every session you attend, boil the message down to one key takeaway. We have short memories, so it’s important to break information down into small, usable chunks that you can recall and apply later. Ask yourself the following questions: What resonated with you? What can you apply in your world? When you’re back in your environment, the takeaway will trigger application.

I’ve got a lot more tips, so join me on Monday for Curating the Conference: Tools & Tips to Maximize your ISTE 2015 Experience and learn habits that will transform your day-to-day practice.

Allison White is a digital learning consultant with over 10 years of experience in the elementary education field as both a teacher and an instructional technology facilitator. Her primary focus is on the integration of STEAM in PK-5. Visit her blog and connect with her on Twitter via @TechTools4Ed.