With GaETC less than a month away, many individuals in educational technology including classroom teachers, specialist, coordinators, coaches, and consultants will soon be converging on Georgia Convention Center. Here are some tips for navigating GaETC as well as other edtech conferences you may attend in the future.
Game Plan: Is there an instructional technology area that you want to understand better? Is there a particular tool you want to learn more about? Do you want to chat with vendors or enter contests? Edtech conferences can provide a means to do all three, but you cannot do it all!! Decide your plan of attack. Check out the sessions that will be offered and select 3-4 that really pique your interest. Make a list of your top session choices and have a backup session to attend when those sessions are full. The goal should be to leave the conference with at least one major takeaway you can bring back to your school and implement. Take the time before the conference to figure out your plan of attack and you will navigate the conference like a champ.
Schedule Down Time: Edtech conferences can feel like a Crossfit WOD or marathon. Remember to schedule time for yourself to eat and unplug. You will be swimming in ideas and information so make sure you schedule time to give your brain a break. When developing your plan of attack prior to the conference, don’t forget to include breaks.
Charge Up: Make sure you have charged up your devices before you attend. Phones, tablets, and laptops should be ready to go when you walk through the door the first day of the conference. Utilize the charging stations in the convention center during your down time and in between sessions. Don’t forget to pack a portable charger for your smaller devices and packing an extension cord or surge protector for your laptops can also be helpful.
Thank Your Presenter: Presenting at a conference or even in front of a small group of adults can be nerve wracking even for the most experienced speaker. All presenters love to feel appreciated and know that you benefited from their session. If the session was very helpful or eye opening, definitely let the presenter know. They will appreciate your gesture. Open Up: As much as it pains me to say this as a major introvert, conferences provide excellent opportunity to network and meet other people. Even if you attend conferences with a group from your school or district, make an effort to meet others and make connections. Building connections outside of your school and district is how we get better as educators. Use the conference as an opportunity to meet new people, network, and connect with other like minded educators from all over.
Share and Share Some More: Use your devices as a note taking and social media machines. In a session that is mind blowing? Share. In a session where you learned a new instructional strategy creatively tweaked? Share. Actively share all of the items you are learning while at the event via Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Even consider blogging about your experience at the event. Keep great notes so that when you get back to school you can reference them as well as share with your colleagues. It is another way you improve as an educator and help those around through sharing.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but I think these are great ideas to keep in mind for GaETC or any educational technology conference as newbie or veteran attendee. Remember most of all enjoy the conference, learn, and have fun!!