ISTE is always such an amazing conference that one can easily get overloaded with all the content, inspiration, and ideas. This year was no different. As I did at San Antonio I spent my first moments in Atlanta hoping to get a feel for the city I would be immersed in for the week. Last year I visited the Alamo to get a feel for San Antonio's unique Texas/American History. This year I didn't have to travel far to hit upon one of Atlanta's historic spots. To get to the hotel to the Convention center I needed to only walk though Atlanta's Centennial Park. It didn't take me long to remember the name of this park. Ensconced in middle of the park were giant statues of Olympic Torches. They were bold and beautiful. I thought back to the Olympics of 1996. At this park, the famous Centennial Park Bomber exploded a backpack that sadly killed, Alice Hawthorne and injured approx. 100 others. Eric Robert Rudolph was eventually charged and found guilty of the bombing but his guilt took a long time to be proven and sadly another man was wrongly accused and had his life turned upside down.
It is hard to believe that this was 1996. That seemed so long ago, so recent, yet it ushered in a the horrible template for future crimes against the innocent. (The Boston Marathon Bombing to add just one example) And yet... walking through the park every day I didn't see gloominess or fear, I saw happiness. I saw a gigantic Chess board where park goers could play a game while standing among the pieces. I saw an area where water would sprout up from the the ground in various holes and countless children in bathing suits would frolic and play in relief of the enveloping Georgia heat. There is nothing more wonderful to hear and see than the joyful noise and animation of children at play. As a casual aside, there was a little sandwich shop in the middle of the Park called The Googie Burger. I enjoyed their chicken sandwich 3 times and it was the best grilled chicken sandwich I've had in a long time.
I have been to Atlanta on several occasions, but never really tried southern style cooking. I must say it is WONDERFUL. My favorite dish beyond compare was Cheesy Grits. They are a mix of traditional grits with cheese blended in. WOW... not much more to say than that.
Ok, so my conference reflections. I could write 10 pages, but I think that would be rather dull. If I know my audience at all, I know you want me to get to the resources and big picture ideas that I came away with. So I will link my quick observations and resources below for you so you can get right to the heart of it.
Overall- Big takeaways. My favorite keynote was Kevin Carroll, (Katalyst), he threw out several memorable quotes, but my favorite were these:
"If your dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough"
"Don't talk about it, BE about it"
The best session overall was on Day 1 before the official conference began, I attended the Unconference, called HackED 2014 with Steve Hargadon. It was a magical day whereby, participants volunteered to do sessions and wrote them on a large pieces of paper. Then other participants put stickers on the ones they wanted to attend. The session that had the most sticker's were put in different time categories so that sessions of big interest weren't competing against each other. Once all the sessions were listed, participants could roam from place to place and take part, not in presentations, but conversations. That is the great thing about these, they are good conversations with many opinions and ideas. I really enjoyed the format and quality of these presentations and met some great new friends that I now follow and connect with in collegial social circles.
After that, I really enjoyed the Networking Fair in the conference Poster area. This was a great way to meet people and talk about my favorite ISTE Community Networks (Formerly SIG's) I hung out at the VEN (Virtual Environments Network) Booth and met tons of my good friends from Kae Novak, Tanya Martin, Chris Luchs, Scott Merrick, Vasili Giannoutsos, and Rosie Vojtek, to name but a few. These people are such wonderful friends and powerful educators.
I was later honored by these very same people by winning the Edumachinima Award for Curriculum. I will cherish this award and hopefully continue to improve my skill as a virtual film creator. It is such great fun.
The rest of the conference really feels like a blur. Here are highlights. Then below are links to some of my favorite sessions and interesting interviews.
Here is a link to some of my conference highlights.
My name is Andrew Wheelock- I am a technology integrator who's fascinated with my fellow educators and their powerful uses of tech for learning.