Beyond the #ISTE17 Conference

I have learned from attending ISTE as well as other conferences the importance of taking the time to review key learnings and connections. Typically, the entire time at a conference, you are on-the-go both physically and mentally.  During sessions, you take copious notes and while strolling around the exhibit hall, poster sessions, or playground areas, one amasses a small amount of collateral as a reminder.  Now that you are home, the real work begins, making sense of all you returned home with. 

Step 1: Sorting through the Paraphernalia

Although this includes all the conference swag that one acquires, it really is about follow-up. The first pass is just to do a quick review. Did I take the Pez dispenser just because I needed a sugar rush or was it to follow-up with the resource? I have learned that if I take a business card or paper collateral, I definitely want to learn more. Of course, there is the swag like the strappy phone carrier that was a necessity as I did not wear an outfit with pockets, but the product is one that I don’t currently have a connection with.   

Step 2: Organizing Notes

Although I consider myself tech-savvy, I have yet to master the art of digital notetaking as the sole form of taking notes at a conference.  I have gotten much better taking notes directly into the conference app, but I still take a few notes in my notebook. I use this time to compile all my notes from multiple locations and put them in one digital file. Cleaning up notes makes it easier to share and allows the important ideas and connections to surface.

Step 3: Digital Connections

Connecting digitally expands what one can take away from attending a face-to-face conference. Creating and organizing bookmarks for new resources allows learning to continue beyond the conference.  Connecting via social media with other attendees is a quick and easy way to grown your virtual learning network.

Step 4: Share

Have conversations with colleagues. Share via social media. Write a blog post. All allow reflections on what you have learned and provide opportunities to connect and share with others. 

ISTE Exhibit Hall


Now that I have had time to reflect on #ISTE17 the following are my top takeaways:

  • Poster sessions are relevant and a great way to connect and learn with so many on a particular topic in a short amount of time.
  • Take time for personal connections. I have been fortunate over the past nineteen years in educational technology to make some great connections from around the world.  Making efforts to connect with them in person is valuable.
  • Volunteer. Taking time to give back while attending a conference is rewarding. You never know who you will meet and what conversations you will have.
  • Spend time in the Exhibit hall. What’s new? What’s different? Does there appear to be a common theme among vendors? What stood out across the hall?  This was definitely the year of the 3D printer, as I think every row of the exhibit hall had at least one.
  • Keynotes are great for motivation and inspiration. 

What are your ISTE conference takeaways? And how do you process what you learn? 

In August 2017, Julia Fischer joined our extended network of alumni.