Preparation for ISTE begins weeks before the conference actually takes place:, there are threads to follow, influencers and educators to connect with, and schedules to make.
A great first step is joining the ISTE Connect page. This is a discussion forum hosted directly by ISTE, and is exclusive to people registered for the conference. Getting the conversation started early helps you get an introduction to topics and themes that will be highlighted at the conference, see who else is going, decide which sessions you want to see, and promote sessions of your own.
Having a Twitter account set up is also key for the modern-day conference-goer. Not only is it useful at the conference for reaching out to exhibitors and educators, but the hashtag #ISTE19 is used frequently on Twitter to promote events, speakers, and exhibits.
The ISTE app is also a great tool for planning out your conference and keeping up to date once you get to Philadelphia and are ready to start exploring.
Use these platforms to start connecting and networking early on, to talk to people, and to start building ideas about your goals for your time at ISTE 2019. Having some idea of what you want to learn, who you want to see, or what you have to accomplish at the conference will help you get the most out of your weekend.
Pack the Necessities
Most people have a pretty good general idea of what to pack for a usual weekend away, but there are a few conference must-haves that you don’t want to forget.
The first of which is business cards! If you don’t have Twitter, or you want to make a connection with someone who doesn’t have Twitter, business cards are the tried-and-true option.
It is also useful to bring a cellphone power bank (if your battery is as feeble as mine). The last thing you want to be doing is sitting on the floor by a wall outlet waiting for your phone to charge when you could be listening to smart people say smart things in a really great session. On that note, also remember to always plug in your phone/power bank when you get back to your hotel room for the night. That way, both you and your phone wake up recharged and ready in the morning.
Another handy thing to bring is a reusable water bottle. Not only is it good for the environment, but it’s good for your wallet as well– water bottles and snacks at conferences are rarely very affordable.
Make sure to bring something to take notes with, whether that be your phone, tablet, or a good old-fashioned notepad. Though it can be bulky, you may also want to bring your laptop as some interactive sessions require a full sized device.
The last tip is the conference Golden Rule: wear comfortable clothes and layers. You’re going to be doing a lot of walking over the weekend, and you never want to be stuck in an uncomfortable situation.
Enjoy the City
Not only is ISTE a great opportunity to connect with like minded educators and exhibitors, but it’s an amazing opportunity to explore the beautiful city of Philadelphia! Take advantage of your weekend and see what the city can offer. It can sometimes be helpful to make goals for your trip beforehand
about what you would most like to see or experience while you’re there. Try eating a signature local food (Philly cheesesteak, anyone?), or at a unique restaurant.Visit some of the city’s art, science, or history museums. And don’t forget to take advantage of the conference sponsored social events– these are great casual settings to continue building relationships and connections outside of the hectic conference atmosphere. Check out the expo hall social events as well as the many events and activities that many individual exhibitors will be organizing. The Philadelphia visitors page is a great resource for finding more information on activities, restaurants, and tourist attractions in the city: https://www.visitphilly.com/
About the Exhibits and Sessions
There are four main session types at ISTE 2019. These session types cater to a variety of different learning styles so you are sure to find what works for you.
The first style is “Listen and Learn”. This is a one-way lecture format where a presenter or a panel will present to the audience with little to no direct interaction.
The second style is “Participate and Share”. These sessions have some audience interaction, but are lecture style for the most part.
The third style is “Explore and Connect”. These sessions have extensive audience interaction with a lot of hands on learning. Keep in mind that most of these sessions require a device to follow along with the presentation.
The last session style is ”Engage and Connect”.. These are hosted, open events where participants are free to converse, network, and mingle as they please. Keep in mind that all these session types have a subsection, like poster sessions (A variety of projects in a multi booth environment), or a playground (interactive experimental booths usually centred around new technologies).
Check out this page for more information on session styles and all conference subcategories to find the session styles that interest you.
And don’t forget to come visit Squiggle Park: Dreamscape in exhibit hall D, at booth #551! See you there!