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THE BEST ISTE EVER: Reflections Day 2, continued

Okay, this is taking longer than expected, but I have made a promise and I intend to keep it.
When last we saw one another, we had just finished up the amazing and action packed EPIC LEADERSHIP: Beyond the Hype of Gamification. I’ll continue Day 1.

We moved out of the Hyatt Ballroom A and into the Ballroom next door, where a lovely buffet awaited us in preparation for the “Making IT Happen” awards ceremony. Several folks were awarded this in-our-circles-prestigious pink or black jacket, actually kind of a lifetime achievements award. This year they were:
Lisa Perez
Mike Lawrence
Julie Lindsey
and Kecia Ray 

Jane McGonigal and Andy Wheelock
Congratulations to all of the  recipients this year! I was so-honored in Philadelphia two years ago, so I clearly I do have a vested interest in its being accepted as prestigious. Think of this, though—ISTE Has over 20,000 members, and the affiliates’ and vendors’ connections number tens of thousands more human beings. Each year at an event like this one, only three or four of these awards are handed out, through a nomination and approval process, out of that pretty vast pool. This year, my dear pal Dr. Kecia Ray finally got hers, after years of dedicated service and in the year that she steps into the presidency of ISTE, arguably the most powerful EdTech organization in the world. Lunch was great, and we had a chance to line up for pictures with Jane McGonigal. Unfortunately she had to leave before we got ours, but we were issued VIP passes for the keynote address later. We were also told that we could jump to the front of the after-keynote book signing for that photo opp with Ms. McGonigal. I never got mine, though Andy did. I hate him.
Just kidding. Andrew Wheelock, salt o’ the earth, is a brother to me. He rocks. 

Straight from the Making IT Happen awards, it was me and Andy trucking  down to the main staging area to line up in order to accept the “President’s Volunteer Service Award.” Dear friend Helen Crompton handed them out backstage in the opening ceremonies and we marched out with the certificates in hand, posed, and smiled for the camera. When I arrived backstage, I’d had my own Black Jacket on for over an hour and when I took that off I felt, and looked, like I’d taken a shower with my pink dress shirt on. I cooled off over the hour or so introduction and welcome and I marched out onstage with a fair level of confidence, mostly dried off and proud to have received this award in front of 5 or so thousand people (seating capacity in Hall A of the Convention Center is officially 5,500.
I obviously did not take a photograph at that event, but I later tweeted out asking for one and thanks to Anita Harris for this pic:

From that event I had to book it again, once offstage, for the SIG Open House. Thankfully, Anita and Mike were responsible for the SIGOL one and Bob and Kae and crew had set up for SIGVE. The place bustled just as soon as the Welcome event let out and we hope that we inspired some new members to check out both SIGs. I had a fun reminder of the old days as I commandeered the Smart Board which was for some reason turned on, directly across from our poster session. I shared our Flickr stream, our Weebly and our Wiki with the steady stream of passersby. As a side note, I accepted this year's Vice Chair role in the Special Interest Group for Online Learning, ISTE's oldest and I believe largest SIG, at ISTE13. What am I thinking?
I had determined that after all the above I was going to catch the opening Keynote from a monitor at some quiet lounge in the Convention Center, but what with the VIP pass Andy and I headed on over and found our way to row three center. You must understand. There are perhaps 200 rows in this huge Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center’s mainstage. The only people in between us and the star presenter were two rows of Board Members. To sweeten the experience, old blogger pal Ann Truger (left) popped in the seat next to me.
Aside: This is one of the very best things about ISTE annual conferences. I see Ann only at ISTE. I could say that about many many of my personal/professional learning networks. But at least I get to see them at all. For me, always and forever, it will be about hugs and sharing appreciation and encouragement. For the first time in ISTE history, there was a “house band.” Check out the band's website and pick up their CD at Wow. these talented highschoolers from several schools in San Antonio performed masterfully and entertainingly for all the keynotes. Just wow.
After some warm welcome remarks by ISTE CEO Brian Lewis and President Kecia Ray (a dynamic and personable team if ever I saw one), the beautiful Jane McGonigal took the stage. Calm and self-possessed from the outset, she proceeded to win over the ISTE keynote record crowd with her charm, her humor, and her story. Toward the end of the session, entitled "Learning is an Epic Win," she bade everyone stand and after brief background and instructions had everyone in the hall play what was the second largest record setting game of thumb war. Now there's a way to engage a room!
Here are some brief clips from her talk:
As the session description states, "Her book, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World," is the definitive book on gamification."  I have read this one cover to cover and I'm currently listening to it via a checkout from the Nashville Public Library. I highly recommend it, especially if you are in the majority (though its numbers are dwindling, certainly) who simply don't get this convergence of game design and instructional design. McGonigal has done her research and it's compelling. If we imagine every convincing presentation, book, or celebrated activity as putting another chink in the wall of denial, Jane McGonigal's work is a roadside IED of immense impact and effect. Her TED Talks continue to receive millions of views and once you've seen them you'll understand why.

I've described in an earlier post McGonigal's moving answer to our Rosie Vojtek's question requesting a description of her greatest Fiero Moment, and if you haven't seen that, click on over and then come back. There's more the first day, but we're almost done.

Heck, I'll give you the first one right here. Save you some clicking:
With the Good Dr.. Helen Crompton
Following the keynote I headed over to the hotel and changed clothes for the President's Reception, an invitation only bash for a few hundred of my closest colleagues. It was an open bar, and I had a tequila or two while hobnobbing with other invitees, including a fun (and dedicated) young group from Nashville's Antioch High School and our own math teachers, Anna Harris and Christine Van Loon. Doug Renfro and his lovely wife Jeannine (wrangler extraordinaire for the immensely overbooked ISTE President, my dear dear friend Kecia Ray). I also ran into my friends Helen Crompton, Shannon McClintock Miller, and many more dedicated and very very smart people I  for the most part only get to see once a year. 
My MNPS Virtual School crew were heading out for a late dinner and they texted me the location so I could join them. Once I met up with them at "The Original Mexican Restaurant" I realized I was starving so I ordered a quesadilla, joined them in a tasty adult libation, then headed back to the hotel with them, parting and collapsing for a bit of rest. 
There. I have achieved closure on reflections from the first day of ISTE13. Yay.
Only three more amazing days to go! Stay tuned!


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