ISTE 2013 - The International Society for Technology in Education's annual four-day confab, held this year in beautiful and broiler-hot San Antonio, Texas - ended last Wednesday afternoon with a rousing closing keynote address by Adam Bellow, encouraging all of us innovative and forward-thinking educators to do what we can to change the world. Coming at the conclusion of four days of networking, learning, and peering into the future of technology, education, and the confluence of the two, Bellow's at times emotional, at time humorous speech was the pitch-perfect conclusion, sending the almost 20,000 attendees home energized and ready to make a real difference in their schools and to their students.
As I wrote about last year, the ISTE conference is an amazing and overwhelming experience. Session range from discussing specific apps for the iPad to brainstorming new ways to demonstrate leadership within one's school. The conference presents one with the chance to have those long conversations with colleagues that the school year leaves no time for, to connect with one's personal learning network in person, and to meet people from literally all over the world who bring a ridiculously wide range of experiences, ideas, and dreams and to work to help each other make those dreams a reality. As ISTE came to a close, I was full of ideas and suggestions that I am eager to try out in the upcoming school year. Just like last year
With one difference. I was not at ISTE this year.
Nope. For a variety of reasons, I was not able to make it down to Texas (will have to get to the Alamo another time). However, that did not mean that I was left out of ISTE. True, I did not get the face-to-face interaction that I would have had had I been there in person. And I was not able to follow up every session that I attended with a schmooze with the presenter or with the person sitting next to me. However, one of the true strengths of ISTE is that it exists within the various networks that all of its attendees have worked so hard to create over the past few year. And, like and strong and solid network, not everyone has to participate in an activity in order for everyone to benefit.
Readers of this blog will not be shocked to hear that Twitter played a major role in my ISTE experience this year. My good friend and frequent collaborator Rabbi Tzvi Pittinsky took copious notes at his sessions on Evernote, tweeted them out, and made sure to mention me in the tweet if the topic was one that he felt was of particular interest to me. The incomparable Suzie Boss kept up a constant twitter stream on PBL issues, and responded to many of many queries and comments throughout the week. An untold number of people alerted me to which sessions were going on, allowing me to put out feelers for quotes, comments, and notes. Several of these sets of notes have been added to my Evernote notebook for future reference as I plan for next year.
There is no question that attending ISTE in person is infinitely more enjoyable and beneficial than living it vicariously through one's friends and network-mates. By the same token, it is important to realize that while four intense days provides a nice charge, it is the other 361 days of the year that we have to take that charge and run with it. My thanks to my network for sharing their excitement and learning with me - I hope to reciprocate from Atlanta next year.