ISTE kicked off today, and it was a roller coaster of highs and lows. The lows were few, but quite noticeable. I think everyone who attended will agree that the inability to get into many of the People's Choice sessions was the frustrating part. On a positive note, this is a wonderful problem to have. So many people are flooding the halls of ISTE that there isn't room for them in the sessions. And certainly the crowds were exacerbated by the absence of an open Expo Hall, but clearly this is something that ISTE could address before Philly next year. Perhaps the People's Choice sessions could be ticketed; perhaps overestimation of crowd size should be the rule. No one should have to stand in line for two hours to ensure a seat in a session.
The only other low, for me, was also, in a way, a positive. The keynote session was highlighted not by David Eagleman, the "official" keynote speaker, but by Patricia Brown's TED-esque talk about race relations and digital and media literacy and the student panel hosted by Jennie Magiera. Kiara, Marley, Rose, and Ian stole the show with their honesty and passion, helping the audience understand how we can better assist our student leaders change this world of ours. Eagleman's keynote address was interesting and full of brain science, but it wasn't what the day needed. We needed the voices that set up Eagleman, and I wish we could have listed to those opening voices all night.
So, there were a few areas that could use some attention. Beyond those, I found the ISTE magic I'm used to. In a recent podcast, I preached the virtue of flexibility at ISTE, and, forced to abandon early plans, I stumbled into an incredible session on social media presence hosted by Julie Willcott and Audrey O'Clair which made up for any aborted plans. If you'd like to experience their presentation, check out this link. I then got to meet a personal eduhero of mine, Tisha Richmond, in her session on gamification. Her experiences with her Culinary Arts classes and gamification should be required reading or listening to anyone thinking of gamifying their classes. Tisha understands that gamification isn't about making everything a game, but is all about bringing in elements from games that help motivate students, elements like competition, adventure, and story. These help engage the class and create passionate learners. She has a book coming out soon with Dave Burgess Consulting, and I cannot wait to read it!
The rest of my time today was spent connecting with educators in the Blogger's Cafe and checking out today's Poster sessions, which had a full complement of students presenting, which I always love. Tomorrow, the Expo Hall opens, which means Google will have sessions from their educators at the booth, there are more overall options for sessions, posters, and snapshots and ISTE will be in full swing. I'm pacing myself well thus far, but I know I'll need lots of energy for tomorrow. I'll let you know what happens.