As I wrote in my post last week, I was heading to ISTE 2012 in San Diego. I wrote about several things the conference had to offer that I wanted to explore, so I thought this would be a good time to provide some feedback since the conference is now over.
First, I was so impressed with the technology, which of course one would expect at a technology conference. But, the fact that throughout the entire conference free wifi was available was really a bonus and something that other conferences really need to consider. It allows for participants to stay connected. All the tweets and blogs that occurred throughout the day provided additional support and exposure of the conference,which I think might outweigh cost.
Second, I really felt the structure of the conference fostered collaboration and gave everyone time to see exhibits and learn without feeling torn. I know at the math conferences there are so many presentations scheduled at every time, with no breaks, so as a participant you have to choose either exhibits or presentations. At ISTE there were specific times when no sessions were offered, with the idea that participants could then go to exhibits or hang out and network or blog or meet folks in the lounges, or check out a playground. It was great not to have to decide one or the other. I was able to go to several terrific sessions, roam the exhibit hall, and manage a couple lounge visits.
Third, it was very apparent that this conference is about networking, collaboration and using technology to connect and enhance education. This was evident in the lounges, where people were blogging and chatting, or in the Social Media Lounge tweeting away but connecting face to face with online colleagues. The live #edchat in the Newbie Lounge on Tuesday afternoon was a personal highlight for me, as I was able to meet personally with folks I tweet with regularly. The atmosphere of the whole conference was about support, connecting, sharing and supporting each other. It was a very positive vibe.
Overall, I completely enjoyed myself at this conference. Of course, the gorgeous weather in San Diego didn't hurt! I hope that one day the math conferences will embrace some of the structures and focus of ISTE...think it goes a long way towards a great learning experience. See you next year!