ISTE 2018 was the best ISTE ever. I've been attending these events for a while, on the order of 20 years or so; and watching the organization grow, growing my network of friends/colleagues in the organization, and helping it grow by volunteering time to do so. In that theme, at my first ISTE event on Saturday of the conference I was awarded the President's Volunteer Service award, Bronze, for significant numbers of hours spent in volunteer activities, which included planning/meeting each week with my Professional Learning Network, chairing a proposal review committee for the conference (over 5,000 proposals were submitted this year!), presenting at other (online) conferences about our work with ISTE, and more. Last year I had worked at least as many hours but chose not to submit an due to my disdain for the supposed POTUS (yes, I'll say that here), but this year I did so and I was pleased to find that 45's name does not appear anywhere on the certificate. My two previous Service awards, a Bronze and a Silver in that order, bear the name and signature (stamped, obviously) of Barack Obama, and I cherish those. I am proud of this one as well, especially as all evidence points to the reality that Drumph knows nothing about it. Anyone who knows me should know that I oppose the dissolution of government services created to serve Americans and to protect them from corporate exploitation, and the in-progress process to channel the "savings" into profits for the rich. I'll stop. At least in this post. #resist #nevergiveup
Let's go day by day:
So. I flew into O'Hare without incident, Lyfted to the Hotel, where they had a room ready for me/us. I had requested a nice view and I'm sure they did the best they could, an 11th floor two-double room with an historic office building across the street and a nice view of the Marina and Sailors' Pier available if you went right up to the window. I got my bags in my room and hurried to make my TILT assignation, as described in my previous post. After walking my partner-in-TILT Helen to her hotel I turned heel and headed toward mine. It was 3+miles and I knew I was being ambitious; but what I didn't know was that I would get turned around, take a walking path around the main drag, and end up walking in the growing intense rain and increasing cold a mile+ past the turn off to my hotel. When I realized my mistake I called, with the last percentage point of battery life on my iPhone, a Lyft to rescue me. While I was "misplaced" I took a panoramic photo of the beach.
|Notice how there are, like, no buildings anywhere nearby?|
Once safely in my hotel room and out of the wet chill that predominated that Chicago evening, I holed up in my hotel room, ordered a burger from room service, and worked on details for Monday's VEN Playground, turning in at a reasonable hour.
I rose early and worked out in the admittedly (seriously outdated) hotel exercise room. afterword, I went straight out and rented my first DIvvY bike (see that previous post). I had been scheduled to attend Steve Hargadon's "Hack Education" event, always stellar, but as the morning went on and Chicago weather just got better and better, I unconsciously made the decision to selfishly enjoy the day instead of racing down to the McCormick Place Center to finalize my conference registration and attend that event. I am certain I would have learned a lot at Hack Education, but since I paid for this trip completely on my own dime I felt like I could do that. And did.
Back at the hotel I dressed and joined other early arrivers at a PLN Core Volunteer Reception down at the rooftop of McCormick Place Convention Center. I may have mentioned that the Center is the 4th largest convention center in the nation; but I found my way uneventfully to the rooftop and enjoyed a nice spread of appetizers which drew from the immense range of international foods Chicago has to offer. I also got more annual conference hugs of the conference, including Jennifer Regan-Fore,
Sunday I arose early, headed out for a bike and tooled around for a couple hours. I rode into Grant Park, really headed no place in particular. I rounded a curve on the park bike trail south of my hotel and came upon a large gathering of folks, clearly assembling for a run of some sort. Many were adjusting their numbers on their shirts as a loudspeaker as the loudspeaker broadcast a beautiful voice singing the National Anthem. When it concluded, the announcer encouraged a round of applause for Lee Ann Rimes. Ah, a little touch of Nashville on this fine Chicago morning!
I returned to the hotel, cleaned up, and I hopped into a Lyft to McCormick Place as I was running a bit tight on time.
In the hallway I got a whole load of new ISTE-annual hugs, featuring Jan Zanetis, Kecia Ray, Jessica Medaille, Kathy Schrock, and many others. I was glad to collect one from Mary Howard, my good friend and colleague, who arrived from the airport just as the the entree was served. I had saved her salad for her though! Annual award winners were announced, celebrated, and received their awards, and I felt honored to be in a room with so many dedicated folks. This is the event were I received my bronze Presidential Service award and Mary received her silver.
As we were leaving the Awards Luncheon, I had the best experience bumping into an idol of mine, David Warlick. Dave was only there for a couple of hours, having more or less crashed the conference to attend the Awards Luncheon: He is a recipient of the coveted "Making IT Happen" award, a high honor ISTE only gives to 5 or so educators every year at the traditional luncheon. I had forgotten to pack mine, but I remember the feeling of being so honored an organization with over 20,000 members. Anyway, I was so pleased to chat with him and to hear he is putting finishing touches on a new book. Semi-retired, Dave enjoys godlike status in my esteem, an elite educational thought leader when "Web 2.0" was only beginning to flourish. His educational perspectives and philosophies have guided my practice for over a decade.
Mary had gone off to check into her hotel--she had come straight to the luncheon after dropping her bags--and I headed for the Posters area of the conference to get set up our little booth for the annual ISTE PLN Networking Fair. This is a 2+ hour walk-up share-out about our network, one of the more than 20 groups of ISTE members who benefit from Network leadership offerings around educational topics year-round. I think that our Virtual Environments Network may be the only one that meets weekly all year long, mostly because virtual worlds afford us the opportunity to do so in ways far superior to a conference call on any platform. Every week the core members of our group meet up and offer the opportunity to all of the more than 1700 members who have indicated they want to stay in touch with VEN that way. You can learn all about what we do at our PLN website. Mary Howard and I set it all up and were joined midway by the erstwhile Bob and Rosie Vojtek, who had only the day before dropped the AMAZING summer issue of our network's Virtual Education Journal. To see that one with one click, visit
During the Fair, we met with countless interested educators, many new to the conference. It's a whole new group of educators who have the potential to help leverage 3D learning technologies into a huge plus-plus for our young people (and for other educators!) so we were diligent in detailing as many of the prospects as we could in as many conversations as we could have. Here are a few pics from that whirlwind event:
interviewed on an onstage panel. Two were high school students and two in college, and they discussed the ways they had used technology to help their communities. All four of them were soooo well-spoken, clearly dedicated, and ready to keep serving and improve their dedication and execution of service to others, and on a global scale. This could not help but give the attendees at least a glimmer of hope in these times, so dark for America.
The Keynote, David Eagelton, brain researcher and author, made a legitimate case that we are not teaching students who have the same kinds of brains as we have, and that instruction must change to support optimal learning. Watch a brief recap:
With record conference turnout, he had a good receptive crowd in that room. He paced back and forth as he made his points and substantiated them, and my only criticism is that he went a bit long. Still, it was a good start to the keynotes.
After the keynote, Mary and I parted ways. Mary had not yet checked into her room at the Hyatt attached to the conference center, so she ran along to do that and I headed back up to my place on a bike and worked some more on plans for Monday, our biggest day. Andy got in from his flight and came in to the room around 8:30 p.m., and as always it was like meeting up with a long lost brother after a year's absence. Sure ,we talk online at least weekly, but despite what our virtual educational focus might lead one to think, there's nothing as real as really being together. He dropped his bags and we walked to get a bite to eat, landing at the South Loop Tavern, an Irish Pub with Irish servers and Irish food. We hiked back to the hotel, stopping by Whole Foods Market for hotel room beer--a six-pack of Sinister IPA for me and a local red beer for the Spiff (Andy's Second Life avatar's first name). We were out like two lights pretty soon, wisely choosing to stock up on rest in order to prepare for our big Monday at ISTE!
I think I've rambled on enough for now, and I can promise at least one more post about the
Best. ISTE. Ever.