Saturday, June 30, 2018

My First ISTE Experience

So, I'm almost a week out from my very first ISTE experience. For anyone who's never been, ISTE is the International Society for Technology in Education, and their yearly conference is a super big deal in terms of size and scale. It's basically the national version of your teaching association group, but for anyone who uses tech. 

Then multiplied by 100. 

In Illinois, we have a state group, called Illinois Computing Educators, with regional chapters and such. Their state conference is big and all (it's the one I usually go to) but I was grossly unprepared for what to expect at ISTE. 

This year, ISTE was local to me, being held in Chicago at McCormick Place... the place that the auto show and Comic-Con is held, if that helps. Oh, and it's expensive, like too much for a person to pay out of their own pocket. So you have to be lucky and have your company or school district send you there. Thankfully, because of my history with WeVideo and willingness to present on their behalf and work in the exhibitor booth, they offered to send both myself and my husband, who teaches art in Oak Park. We worked in the exhibitor booth for 2 of the 3 days, and just that experience alone was insane and fun and basically a giant overload to the senses!

I know it's mostly because it was my first time, so I was unprepared as to what to expect. I'll do better next round. 

Mr Leban and I doing what we do best. Being weird. 

For starters, it felt like we were non-stop hit by people at the booth! Some with questions, some who wanted to try out awesome green screen activities using WeVideo, and LOTS of friends: both my coworkers AND my virtual friends who I was finally able to meet up with in real life and say hello! 

from upper left, clockwise: Suzee Reinheimer (my D205 coworker) and Todd Burleson (author/librarian/twitter buddy), Ben Hartman (another D205 coworker), Kaitlin Fajks (my grad school colleague), and Abby Almerido (one of my new #LAX18 cohort pals!)

I was able to hit up a few sessions, including one on creativity by Todd Burleson, who was kind enough to include me in his Green Screen Makerspace Project book last year, and one on the Google Dynamic Learning Project, which I am super interested in learning everything about! 

Not only did I meet friends at the WeVideo booth, I also had the chance to present at the Google for Education booth on WeVideo. (WeVideo is a Google for Education partner and so we had a space to present - it was super fun!)

I haven't actually shared the awesome news here on the blog, although I've been tweeting all over - I was accepted to the Google Certified Innovator program this summer! I'm going to LA in a little over a week to work on my project, and I am so so psyched about it. I have a really amazing and friendly group of teachers in my cohort with me, and a bunch of us were able to meet up IRL at ISTE! Don't worry, I'm sure to have a blog post all about it after I get back. :)

(Note to self #1: Always take selfies with everyone you meet at ISTE. I forgot this like 90% of my time here.)

We were invited to the special WeVideo/Soundtrap social at Underground on Monday night, which was super fun, and I met up with even MORE friends. Seriously, this ISTE thing is the best place ever to connect with your PLN! :)

Our WeVideo crew! Back row L-R: John, Todd, Me, Jaime, and Krishna. Front row L-R: Emily and Allison

On day three, Todd and I had the time all to ourselves, so besides hitting up a session AND meeting another friend for coffee, we made a valiant attempt to make it through the vendor hall... and I'd say we did a pretty good job of it? 

I was ridiculously excited to find the Osmo booth (I don't use it in middle school, but Iggy has a setup at home and we keep buying more stuff for it because IT IS AMAZING) and I got to meet Awbie of the Osmo Instagram account, who I'm kind of obsessed with. He's just the cutest. 

I also got to talk with exhibitors at some of my other favorite (and new favorite!) vendors, and learn a bunch of new and exciting tricks and preview a bunch of upcoming fun things: Makey Makey, littleBits, iPevo, Swivl, Flipgrid, Creaza, Strawbees... oh geez and I'm probably forgetting a whole mess of others... I told you this ISTE thing was overwhelming! :)

Did you go to ISTE? What was your favorite part? 

- Mrs L.