ISTE 2016, like the song above left my head spinning with new and creative ideas I had never considered. It is time to reflect on the experience. Let's get the negative out of the way so I can move on to all the positive. The only blemish on the entire event was the WiFi connectivity in the Exhibition Hall. You had better chances of staying connected to the Pokemon Go servers in its earliest days than connecting to the free internet "provided" by the event. I'm sure it was a case of too many people asking for internet at the same time but I've heard this is a traditional problem. Yes, that's it! That is the only blemish on ISTE 2016.
In my first 24 hours in Denver I was surrounded by a lot of people but only one of the 15,000+ souls I recognized. Rushton Hurley walked by in the Convention Centre and though he will never know, it meant so much to see a face I've actually talked to before. When asked how my first 24 hours at ISTE 2016 were, my response was consistently "Overwhelming!" I've never experienced something that held intensity for that great length of time. Survival was the goal and once Michio Kaku took the stage I was becoming accustom to the upbeat conference and challenging atmospheric impacts of being one mile above sea level. On my first ever Uber drive to my hotel far outside of Denver (late booking) I knew I was ready to not only survive but to also learn more than ever from a professional learning opportunity
My goal for the event was simple and I may have approached ISTE entirely wrong. I wanted to meet each of the companies I was familiar with and thank them while sharing my educational story of using their service. I realize there were far more opportunities to see companies and services I hadn't used but this seemed like a good start. Soundtrap, Microsoft, Fresh Grade, Kahoot, Power School, Lego, EverFi, Nureva, Unity3D and a few others I had face-time with allowed me to say thanks and learn about new features. Maybe I should have met some new companies and walked out with truck-loads of SWAG but I still think my method was worth the price of admission.
The people at ISTE 2016 were some of the nicest I've ever met. Even the security guard who couldn't understand all I wanted to do was look into the Exhibition Hall through the glass doors was kind when he told me to come back the next day for the 30th time. A forced small talk chat at the airport helped me save over $100 Canadian on a ride into the city sharing a ride with a very passionate EdTech writer. People at this event would really go out of their way to help you and even more make you feel welcome. On my last night in Denver a torrential rainfall eliminated my only shot at sightseeing in Denver and Fresh Grade swooped in to save my night with a VIP reception which I (as a service user) was apparently worthy of attending. I think in the end the people are what have me looking back at both ISTE and DENVER fondly and they have done their part to make me want to return ASAP!
Soundtrap is the reason I got on a plane and flew the furthest West I've ever flown. I never thought I'd see the Rocky Mountains and the desire to meet Soundtrap's crew and share my love of their service inspired the spontaneous trip from Atlantic Canada. The crew at the Soundtrap booth were both talented, knowledgable and very very friendly. I was there when Google announced that Soundtrap, WeVideo and Explain Everything would join together to form a powerhouse package of creative apps. Even though I work in a Microsoft district this was news for celebration as Soundtrap is an audio solution for all systems and devices and represents the future of audio production in schools. Over all the noise in the Exhibition Hall their story sang out and from what I saw they were creating quite a buzz with teachers.
I loved seeing teachers at ISTE 2016 helping companies translate their service into teacher-friendly language and share stories. This is something I would love to do at future ISTE events!
Benjamin Kelly 2016
I'm an experienced Global Minecraft Mentor, Published Educational Researcher, Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow, Apple Distinguished Educator, TeachSDGs Ambassador and grade 6-12 technology teacher. @BBTNB