I will be blogging from the conference, and tweeting as well (follow me at @rabbiross) and will obviously have much more to say once I am there and get over the feeling of being overwhelmed. Right now, simply looking at the convention center is making me feel overwhelmed. A few thoughts before I head off:
1) Live meetings are important. One thing I am looking forward to at this conference is finally meeting many of the people that I know only through twitter and the blogosphere. Some of them I simply follow. Some of them I have had long, drawn-out twitter-fueled conversations with. Some of them I can almost pick out of a crowd. Some hide behind an animated avatar. As wonderful as social media is - and I am a believer - there is nothing that substitutes for sitting down for a chat or hearing a live session from someone that you have already gained so much from.
2) Everyone is your teacher. As the Sages say, "Who is wise? He who learns from everyone." I have no doubt that every single one of the 20,000 people in attendance at ISTE will have the potential for teaching me something, whether they are presenters or people waiting in front of me on line to get into a session. There will be so many people there from so many walks of life and types of schools (from around the country and around the world), and there are so many innovations being tried in classrooms that chances are anyone I speak to will have something to say to me that I do not already know. At the same time, I have to be willing to share and not assume that as a newbie at the conference I have nothing to contribute - as I said, everyone here will be a teacher.
3) Building a Jewish education technology cohort. I am attending this conference thanks to the good graces of the AVI CHAI foundation, who are sponsoring Jewish educators at ISTE for the second time. In addition, several other Jewish foundations will be sending cohorts, and many other ISTE veterans from Jewish day schools will be attending on their own as well. As events like this become more fixed on the calendar of Jewish schools, and as the network of ISTE attendees from such schools continues to grow, the impact on the type of education that we are able to provide to our students will increase as well. While Judaic education specifically currently is far behind more general subjects such as math and science in terms of the resources that are available online, an ever-growing group of Jewish educators will help to begin to produce materials and ideas that will allow others to leverage the power of technology to improve and enhance their classroom environment.
That's all for now. Stay tuned for updates from the conference.