I didn't go to ISTE this year. And I watched my Twitter feed explode with excitement and energy and idea after idea. I followed #iste2015 until my eyes blurred. Then I followed #istelib, which honed my focus, but something was missing.
I felt alone. That is, until I stumbled upon the #notatiste2015 hashtag. So many options were available! Generous folks were posting links to Google Hangouts live streaming sessions--thanks to the #istelib group and #tlchat! And then I found Periscope.
Not to be deterred by sporadic wi-fi connections, the intrepid Tony Vincent used his own cell phone data to comb the poster sessions. Those of us following live on Periscope had the opportunity to ask questions and share our heart "love" (literally) with the interviewees. By tapping the screen, hearts float up so that the screen is filled with gratitude and approval. Tony's frequent companion on these jaunts was @thewendywells, and their banter together was both entertaining and thoughtful.
In the Periscope app, your Twitter PLN can post video, which is then available for 24 hours of viewing. I found it very helpful to take notes while watching. I even took screenshots of certain points during the session so that I could remember items for later.
In Tony's recap of ISTE, I had so many ideas bouncing around (not the least of which was my need to change my Twitter handle) that I needed to stop my Periscope session and return to it later.
Multiple devices are most definitely needed for the #notatiste conference-goer. I often found myself watching on one device and tweeting with another, so much during Shannon Miller's #istelib breakfast keynote that Nikki Robertson asked me:
But it felt hollow. What was missing? Besides much of the content, I missed the serendipitous conversations that make up real, lasting professional development.
My Twitter PLN is fierce. I mean top-notch. But missing out on those face-to-face discussions that ride the tide of excitement out of a session? That is the heart of a conference: the community, the connections.
Will this be my go-to approach to conferencing? Absolutely not. Was it better than nothing? Absolutely. This might be a good way for non-conference-goers to experience the thrill without much risk.
I was grateful to find others like Robbie Barber posting her #notatiste experience on Twitter as well--I felt I had a common spirit there! But I thrive on connections, on common experiences. This is why conferences are important--not just for the ideas, but for the renewal of spirit. We come away so much richer as a result.
So for ISTE 2016? I'll see you in Denver.