I’ve had the good fortune of attending the last 5 ISTE conferences, and this one was by far the most dynamic and personalized. The session line-up really addressed the needs of all attendees, and the themes that I mentioned on my Day 1 wrap-up were common throughout the event. The amount of playgrounds, maker spaces, blogger’s lounges, and poster sessions made it much more interactive than a “typical” conference. The featured speakers were a good mix of personalities and thoughts about the future of learning in education. Needless to say, Adam Bellow’s closing keynote was a personal highlight for me.  It was inspiring, funny, and as usual with a Bellow presentation, given at a breakneck pace that keeps you drawn in and engaged.

One thing that I have learned in attending these past few ISTE conferences is that you really have to make sure you put in some work following the event. This time reflecting, either alone or with your PLN, can make the learning much more powerful and allow you to ride the wave of this educational momentum into future years.

With the event being held down the road in San Antonio, I was able to send a team of 16 to visit ISTE. In the past couple of years, I’ve been asking the 3-4 staff that went to come in and debrief. The only problem is, we are now in the middle of summer, and with such a large group attending, it only makes sense that I use some digital tools to help codify the learning that took place with the team. This not only makes attending more valuable, it allows us to disperse knowledge to our staff that weren’t able to attend. Here are three digital tools I’ll use in the next few days to help me accomplish that goal.

Dispatch.IO

With such a large team going, and it being the middle of the summer, I’ve decided that rather than meeting physically, we’ll meet digitally. Using a tool like Dispatch, I can start a conversation around ISTE13 and share it with my entire team via their Google accounts. Since it syncs with Google Drive, Dropbox and Evernote, it’s easy for all of us to share our notes into one single dispatch.  Once those are crowd-sourced, we can go through and single out specific tools and ideas learned that we’ll want to put into action next year.

G+ Hangouts

As many of my team are now off, I’ll still want to have some brief 15-20 minute discussions with them about what their big take-away’s would be for next year.  Using G+ hangouts, and recording these conversations in snippets, can build a great oral narrative of how the event was received. It’s going to be important to capture this in the next day or two with as many team members as possible so that the memory is fresh in our brains. Then, in August, when the beach sand is finally all out of our hair and we’re ready to start back, we can reflect on what conversations we had.

Twitter + Storify

The beauty of Twitter is that you can literally bend time and space. I was not able to attend every session, but by using a tool like Storify, I’ll troll the #ISTE13 hashtag on twitter to discover tidbits, resources, and tools that might be useful for our district in future years. Storify allows me to crowd-source the thinking of all the attendees and discover some powerful ideas that I might have missed otherwise.  The combination of these tools allows me to let my social networks to paint a broader picture of the ISTE experience.

The writing of this very blog actually helps add to the reflection, and I’ll encourage all of our attendees to do the same. I think that by using some of the digital tools mentioned above along with the non-technical face-to-face discussions, I’ll be able to expand on the experience of ISTE 2013. This is a powerful way to continue the learning conversation with my staff and beyond.  Thank you to all ISTE attendees for adding to that learning experience, whether you meant to or not.