How to Get the Most Out of an Ed Tech Conference
Quick tips for maximizing your education conference experience
As I gear up for the Florida Education Technology Conference (FETC) next week, I find myself thinking about how to get the most out of an education conference. I think a lot of teachers are probably thinking the same thing as they get ready for this year’s exciting lineup of ed tech conferences. If you’re like me, you’re probably anxious to hear about the latest advancements in classroom technology, and you’re eager to network with other tech-savvy educators. But I know from experience that conferences can be intimidating, so I’ve put together a list of helpful hints to guide your session planning before you attend your next conference.
1. Line up your conference schedule
There are so many great education conferences in 2013, but time and budget restraints will probably limit the number of conferences you can attend this year. Spend some time researching individual conferences now so you can create your conference wish list for the new year. Here’s a list of some of the upcoming education technology conferences in 2013:
- EduCon 2.5 – Today – January 27
- FETC 2013 – January 28 – 31
- Texas Computer Education Association Conference – Feb. 4 – 8
- ASCD 2013 – March 16 – 18
- EdTechTeacher iPad Summit USA 2013 – April 10 – 12
- International Society for Technology in Education – June 23 – 26
2. Don’t plan on attending every session
Just because you’re attending an education conference doesn’t mean you have to attend every session and social networking event. Keep in mind that conferences like FETC have hundreds of sessions, so you can’t attend EVERY session and workshop. Leave yourself some downtime to absorb all of the information. You’ll get more out of a conference if you’re energized and engaged. I suggest that you browse through the conference schedule ahead of time and attend the sessions that matter the most to you. Bottom line: Don’t burn yourself out!
3. Add presenters to your PLN
The best thing about an education conference is that it gives you the chance to hear from experts and innovators in the field. What’s even better is that you can interact with these educators after the conference or event. You’ll find that a lot of ed tech presenters are connected on Twitter, LinkedIn, and their Nings. In between sessions, follow or add your presenter to your PLN (professional learning network) to ask a question or start a one-on-one conversation about the topic at hand.
4. Don’t forget your business cards
If you have business cards, be sure to bring them along with you to the conference. Sure, you’ll learn a lot about ed tech simply by attending sessions, but you’ll learn even more by talking to like-minded educators and making connections. Keep your business cards handy so you can keep in touch with these educators after the conference. If you don’t have a business card, websites like VistaPrint offer relatively inexpensive services for creating and printing business cards.
5. Try not to eat lunch with your friends
Even if you plan on attending a conference with friends or colleagues, you should take the time to network with other educators at the event. Sometimes, a 30-minute conversation with a stranger is more valuable than a two-hour session at the conference. Take advantage of lunchtime and social events to introduce yourself to a new teacher. Who knows? It might just lead to the next big idea for your classroom.
6. BYOD to the conference
It makes sense that you would “bring your own device” to an ed tech conference. It’s easier to store contacts on your phone and you can follow live Twitter updates of the event from your tablet or laptop. If you plan on attending the iPad Summit, bring your iPad to the conference so you can check out recommended apps and speak with representatives on the spot.
Also, check out these networking and conferencing lesson plans:
Do you have advice for attending an education conference? Share with us in the comments section.