Are you ready for ISTE 2013?

The annual ISTE Conference is always one of the major professional highlights of my year. I am so looking forward to this year’s conference in San Antonio. This will be my fourth consecutive year attending ISTE, and I would really feel like something major was missing if I didn’t have the opportunity to attend!

I will admit that my first ISTE experience in 2010 was a bit overwhelming…it’s such a HUGE conference. However, it’s massive size is reflected in its awesomeness as well, so if you are attending, prepare for information overload (but totally in a good way)!


This was the first time I met THE library rockstars, Joyce Valenza and Gwyneth Jones, at ISTE 2010. It was a major celebrity sighting moment for me and my coworker thought I had lost my mind!

My biggest suggestion for anyone attending would be to volunteer. Over the last few years, I have become very involved with SIGMS (the Special Interest Group for Media Specialists) and it all started with volunteering at the conference. There are tons of opportunities to volunteer with ISTE and they do a great job of recruiting and organizing volunteers. Volunteers even get an awesome ISTE t-shirt for their efforts! The best volunteer opportunity, in my opinion, is the SIGMS Playground. Volunteers can give an informal 5-10 minute presentation at one of the six computer stations for a one hour or two hour time slot. This gives you a chance to share your favorite tool or resource with others! It’s such a great way to get involved…and you can tell everyone that you presented at an International technology conference!! Interested in getting involved with the SIGMS Playground? Contact me! This year, one of my duties as SIGMS President-Elect is to coordinate our SIGMS Playground. And how did I get so involved with SIGMS leadership, you ask? Well…I started volunteering for the playground back in 2011!

Click here to volunteer for the SIGMS Playground! (**All playground volunteer spots are now full, but please visit the SIGMS Playground on Monday from 8-11:30am!)

The best thing for me about the ISTE Conference is the opportunity to spend time face to face with the members of my PLN. I gain so much from them throughout the year with the things they share on Twitter, in their blogs, and through webinars. This is a chance to  have conversations and plan awesome collaborative activities that will have a lasting impact when I return to school in the fall.  So I asked some of my dear friends and amazing members of my PLN to either share three things they are most looking forward to for ISTE 2013 or three tips that they would share with other attendees. Here’s what they had to say…

Gwyneth Jones says…

1. Packing a Punch! It’s important to pack the right stuff – I blogged about this last year & would add an extra battery pack that’s either heavy duty or cute & sleek for all your iDevices & telephony needs! I also try not to take too much home – no paper hording, and not much vendor swag (frankly, it’s gotta be something super sweet to lure me to take it home) and bring a lightweight luggage scale if you can – that way you’ll know when to ship & when to check! — It could be a super stress & money saver!

2. Small conversations in big places. I absolutely adore re-connecting with my Peeps, Tweeps, & PLN friends! I love sharing on Twitter but there’s nothing better than conversations in person, bright smiles, & warm hugs! I like to hang out at the Blogger’s Cafe or the Social Butterfly lounge when not doing board duties or helping out presentations – this is where I find I have the best conversations and am able to meet new kindred spirits! I also like happy hours & small dinners over big parties – but then again, this girl goes to bed by 9:30 so well….there you go!

3. Pace Yourself – The first ISTE or NECC I went to was in Atlanta 07 and I was totally overwhelmed, overstimulated, & over achieving! I learned SO much and I’ve got to say that it inspired me to do even more for my kids & community but it was EXHAUSTING! I actually would go fierce early but fizzle out by 2 or 3pm – the crowds overwhelmed me! I would go back to the hotel, take a wee nap, and then go back out and socialize a bit. So, don’t be ashamed if you crash early, take a nap, or don’t feel like going to a late night bash. Of course, I know you’ll have good company if you do…man, that Joyce Valenza can dance until dawn!


Gwyneth Jones and I after our Hollywood Squares session at ISTE 2012!

Joyce Valenza  says…

I LOVE ISTE and this year there is no overlap conflict/sacrifice. I can attend both ISTE and ALA!

I am looking forward to learning formally and informally and FACE TO FACE from my generous colleagues. The mix itself is inspiring–the folks who are a part of our fabulous SIGMS, our classroom teacher edtech buddies, the admins, the vendors, the academics, the software developers, the publishers–all of whom have been part of, or will be part of, my PLN for years.

I love discovering newbie librarians and introducing them to ISTE!

From previous San Antonio conferences I know that it is important to go outside! The food, the music, the dancing, the shopping, and the River Walk rock!


Joyce Valenza, Nick Provenzano, me, and Joquetta Johnson at ISTE 2012!

Nicholas Provenzano says…

1. Take the opportunity to meet people from your digital life in person. It’s is a great chance to exchange smiles and hugs face to face.

2. Create your own learning experiences in the hallways. Not all sessions are going to work for you. Find a group of people and talk about what interests you at the moment.

3. Make new connections. It is always great to hang with old friends, but I love meeting new ones. Social events like #EduBros are perfect for meeting new people and growing your PLN.

Matthew Winner says…

1. Say Hi – Attending conferences is as much about learning lots in concurrent sessions as it is about networking, making new instructional partnerships, and forging collaborative relationships. Don’t be afraid to sit next to someone new, ask about their background, and share about yourself. YOU have something great to offer, even if you don’t realize it yet.

2. Have a Back-up for your Back-up – Sometimes sessions are full… or aren’t what you expected. Having a back-up plan ahead of time will help you stay on top of the conference schedule rather than fumbling through the program. You can also usually get handouts, etc. from the presenter’s session via the session page on the conference website. Oh, and if you have a friend with you, divide and conquer so you can cover even more ground.

3. Party Up – Find your way to the evening parties held recreationally (ie. Edubros) or from one of the vendors. These are great ways to make new friends, score some free products from vendors, and break the “conference focus mode”. It’s also a fun opportunity to meet many of those people you only know from Twitter.

Sherry Gick says…

As a “first timer”, the 3 things I’m most looking forward to are:

1. Meeting y’all, my Twitter rockstar PLN members face-to-face! Twitter has expanded my world, my connections, and the way I run my library. Each of you has been influential in my professional life the past two years because of your contributions to the education field and your willingness to share on Twitter and on other social media platforms.

2. The keynote speaker, Jane McGonigal! I’m so excited to hear her speak about gamification and her work. I’m such a Fangirl!

3. All the awesome sessions! I mean really…it’s ISTE! My conference planner is slam packed full of so many cool sessions (several being taught by you guys!) I’m looking forward to learning awesome new ideas to enhance my teaching next school year.

4. Visiting Texas! (Yeah, I know this was only supposed to be a list of 3 things, but I’ve never been to the great state of Texas. Can’t wait!)

Shannon Miller says…

The three things that I look most forward to ISTE this year….

1. Even though we connect with one another almost every day through social media, ISTE is the place that we get to reconnect with our wonderful friends in person. And the place that we can make new friends or meet the ones we have only met on Twitter or Facebook before. I love walking outside or hanging out in the Blogger’s Cafe and seeing people I have known from Twitter….It is like you have met “a long lost friend” every time.

2. I love all of the connections that I make at ISTE with publishes, Web 2.0 creators, app developers, professionals, companies, experts and others. By making these connections I can bring so much back to the students, teachers and school community I work with.

3. This year I am most excited about my amazing friend Adam Bellow’s closing keynote at ISTE! He recently told me a little bit about it and I just cannot wait. We are all going to be inspired by his message.  

Elizabeth Kahn says…

1. Attending the conference for the state affiliate of ISTE has been a disappointment the last few years. I feel like I am light years ahead of everyone there, and I know that there is so much more for me to learn. So I am looking forward to networking and attending sessions with people who think like I do. Which means they are willing to stretch themselves and are willing to take chances with new ideas and new technologies.

2. I am definitely excited about meeting people F2F who I have “met” through social media.

3. I hope to leave with several new ideas that I can put into practice in my library next year. We are moving to a brand new building in August, and besides a new physical environment, I would like some fresh ideas for the program too.

3 thoughts on “Are you ready for ISTE 2013?

  1. This was an awesome blog post, sweetie! Good job & I love seeing the wisdom from some of our other PLN peeps! That pic of us in Denver – just makes me smile every time! You really won our hearts with your enthusiasm, sheer talent, willingness to pitch in & help and your absolute reliability! That is always key with me! You always come through, never disappoint, and shine!
    Cheers dear!

  2. I so wanted to go to ISTE since I am a first year librarian but…it didn’t work out. I have heard wonderful things about it and really hope I can attend next year!!!! Reading your blog just made me more envious that I won’t be attending. I’ll just have to read about all the wonderful things here!!

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