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.