Saturday, June 28, 2014

#CoEdNet Goes to #ISTE2014 - Part 1

At InnEdCo...

The conference is held at a serene mountain resort within driving distance. Most people stay at the resort, and those who choose offsite lodging are still there the majority of their time during the sessions and festivities each day. Everything happens within walking distance, and there is a shuttle to take the trek from one side of the resort to the other in about 5 minutes. This means it is easy to meet up with little to no advance notice, and you often bump into fellow InnEdCo-ers while eating at one of the few restaurants or walking to and from your next activity. All this happens at a ski resort over the summer, so almost everyone there has a shared purpose of attending the conference as a learner, leader, and facilitator of learning.

For many years the conference was held at the same resort so there are enough friendly people who know their way around that you can easily ask for help finding something. Even next year when the conference moves to Keystone it will be easy to grab a resort map and navigate from place to place on foot.

At ISTE...

The conference is held in a large city in the summer and the recommended conference hotels always sell out before all attendees have secured lodging. Transportation is tricky whether you have a car (hello pricey parking!), are trying to use public transportation can also be burdensome and time consuming (wait..which train can I take and where is the closest station?). This means that impromptu meetups are much harder to coordinate and there is a higher level of stress in finding your way anywhere. It also means that instead of spending your time and energy learning and connecting with amazing people you're probably spending a while getting from point A to point B and hoping your friends haven't taken off for the next stop on their agenda before you arrive. Friendly smiles and hellos as you walk past people on your way somewhere are replaced with being on guard about where you are going, how long it will take you to get there, and clutching your purse a little tighter as you walk down unknown city streets at night.

Every year the conference is in a different city around the US. This is exciting for some, scary for others, and probably a bit of both for many. Each year the learning curve of finding your way around is reset, with the exception of people who have spent time visiting or living in the host city.

The Metaphor...

Going to InnEdCo is like being in your small town or college campus where people are friendly and often know each other - it feels like "home". Going to ISTE is like being an 18 year old stepping foot on a large university campus for the first day of freshman-year classes.

#CoEdNet Goes to #ISTE2014 - The Frame

Yesterday I arrived in Atlanta with my rockstar teammates +Kevin Croghan and +Laura Mitchell to attend the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference. We have been looking forward to this one for a few months now, and I am excited to see what all the buzz is about since this is my first ISTE experience.

Last week we had the great pleasure of being at Copper Mountain Resort for the similar but smaller and more local Innovation Education Colorado (InnEdCo, formerly TIE) conference. I still haven't digested all of the fantastic things I learned and started to think about throughout that week, and many of my intended posts on the experience have yet to make their way out of my journal and into the blogosphere. What I can say is that being able to attend InnEdCo truly feeling like a Colorado Connected Educator this year made all the difference in how valuable the experience was for me. I had the great pleasure of presenting and being positioned to help other attendees (some from our district, others from around the state), which was a dream come true. I am still processing all the ways this year was so different for me and hope to share some of those takeaways soon because I really want to help others have the same transformative experience when they attend InnEdCo and other learning "events" in the future.

In the meantime I've shifted gears to ISTE for the next few days and want to share some of my thinking as it pertains to the conference experience itself. I anticipate this is going to look like a comparison of sorts, but we shall see how it evolves. This is by no means meant to be taken as criticism for either conference, but instead to be viewed as things I notice and wonder in an attempt to further process my experience and grow as a learner, attendee, facilitator, and organizer of adult learning.

I am also setting a goal for myself of lowering, as in way, WAY lowering, the expectations I have for sharing my thinking in this space. I am a forever perfectionist and writing purest of sorts, which means blog posts usually take me quite a little bit of time to create and actually share. (Ex: I have only recently taken to not proofreading & editing every email I send, though I still do so for quite a few depending on the audience.) That being said, I want to experiment a little with how I choose to use this space to capture my thinking, process ideas, and track my own growth over time. So over the next few days you may see some typos (just the thought makes me cringe!), and some of the thoughts shared might range from slightly rambling to incomprehensibly long-winded and fairly off-topic. My love for the Oxford comma and temptation to use it at every.single.turn will absolutely make an appearance at times. All of this is ok. I am not writing a book to be published, nor do I want myself or others to feel as though blogging has to be the kind of activity that has to take hours on end and be your absolute best work each time. My purpose in blogging is to process my learning and share it with others so they can learn with me and push my thinking even farther.

And with that, we're off!...