The conference is about learning, but you will have a more enjoyable time if you are prepared. Plan what you are going to bring ahead of time. These are my suggested items.
- BAG. Lets start with the receptacle that will hold everything else. After my first day at ISTE I swapped my fashionable tote for a book bag with padded straps. The book bag also makes it easy to organize and find items.
- CHARGERS. Most of us will have more electronic devices than hands. Make sure you also pack the chargers. To make easy friends, ahead of time purchase a grounding adapter It magically creates additional charge locations. Mine cost less than $5 and is bright orange so it is hard to forget.
- SNICKER’S BAR. It does not actually have to be a Snicker’s Bar, but it was the commercial that reminded me of the importance of an easy snack for between sessions. You might not be as irrational as the characters in the Snicker’s commercial, but people do tend to become more negative when hungry.
- WATER BOTTLE. There are normally hydration stations set up throughout the conference center; however, the availability of cups is less reliable. Solve this problem with a re-fillable water bottle.
- SWEATER. The outside temperature might be sweltering, but there are always some rooms with an artic temperament. Initially it feels refreshing, but that changes to chills quickly. I have also used my sweater for a pillow for an impromptu powernap.
- CONTACT INFO. There are two different types of contact information that you want. Business cards are great to hand out to other attendees when you want to stay in contact after the conference. If you plan on visiting the vendor hall, they generally want the same set of information from you – name, address, email, phone number, where you work. Before my first conference, someone suggested printing this on address labels. It was a great suggestion and saves hand cramps and the time of writing your information over and over.
- PAPER & PEN. Sometimes there are benefits to using a paper and pen. I frequently need directions, and it is easier for someone to draw a map on paper than trying to do that on a Smartphone. There are occasionally are Wi-Fi barren zones, and the backup becomes the primary.
- APPS. I know other people have covered their crucial apps for conference attending. These are the ones I rely on and love:
- ISTE 2013 ONSITE MOBILE GUIDE: This is the official conference app. Through the app you can access the schedule, your planner, social media, etc. Under the Info Booth section you can also find maps of the conference center, which is incredibly helpful. There is a paper version of the conference program, but the app is searchable and lighter to carry.
- SAN ANTONIO OFFICIAL TRAVEL GUIDE: There are many choices of travel apps for the city of San Antonio. It really does not matter which one you select, but you should have something to tell you about the city. I wanted an app that would provide me with maps of places to eat and things to do.
- EVERNOTE: During the sessions I record my ideas and their resources in Evernote. The app works with or without a Wi-Fi connection. When it is connected it will sync the notes between all of my devices. For websites that are shared, I like the ability to add the entire website to Evernote using the bookmarklet. After the conference, everything is in a single ISTE13 folder, so it is easy to find and reference.
- TWITTER: Honestly, during many sessions I am too engaged to tweet, but it is still a great tool to connect with people. I love finding resources from sessions that I could not attend through Twitter hash tags.
- QR READER: Another way that people share information during the conference is through QR Codes. You need to have a QR Reader to access what they post. My favorite QR Reader is i-nigma, but there are so many choices out there. After I scan a QR Code, I email the results to my Evernote account for future review.
- INSTAGRAM: Visuals trigger memories for the posters and the sessions I enjoyed. I want to share the pictures with friends. If I just want to share it with a single individual I can use bump. Or I can share the pictures with the world on Instagram with the hash tag #iste13.
- BUMP: For long-term memories and reflective purposes, I try to blog. During the conference it is short blurbs about great resources and discoveries. After the conference there is time for thoughtful reflection and application to my classroom.
- PIXNTELL: This is my new favorite app this year. You can take five pictures and record audio to explain each. The app stitches all the images and audio together and produces a video, which can be easily uploaded to YouTube or shared on Twitter. This will be perfect for the learning stations and student showcases, which are the overlooked gems of the conference.
- EVENTBRITE: Many of the social events set up their tickets through Eventbrite. By having the app, I will not have to worry about paper tickets.
- The last three apps are sanity savers. Sometimes I need a moment to unwind or refocus. Ear buds with music or language lessons on DUOLINGO are my perfect solution. The conference days start early and go late, but this is nothing that cannot be solved by a triple shot latte. These three are also great for the travel portion of the conference experience.
- COMFORTABLE SHOES. This is the exception to the bag; it is the one item that will not be in the bag. However, it is so crucial that it needed to be mentioned. Pack shoes that you are willing to walk a few miles in daily. I mean this literally. I might pack my pedometer to track my daily number.
These are my crucial pack items for the conference. There are many items to personalize your bag: like Band-Aids for the shoes that were not comfortable enough, mints for when you meet EdTech celebrities, hand sanitizer since thousands of people will touch the door before you, Advil for the morning after, etc. The possible list is endless, but I am going to end here.
Middle School Social Studies / Spanish teacher. ed tech adventurer, passionate presenter, learning technologies corporate professor, and foodie.