ISTE even had a crazy start. My wife is from Colorado, so we usually take a vacation to that area anyway. Every summer, that means driving. The cost is just so high to fly with 5 people (I have 3 kids), that it is only an option at Christmas. That meant I started my trip with a two-day drive to CO. You would think it would be rough, but I actually love spending that kind of time with my family! Our end point was my inlaws house and we got to drop the kids off, and head on the next day.
We got to ISTE on Sunday, and it was an awesome experience from the start. My friends at Symbaloo helped my wife out with an exhibitor pass so we got to go everywhere together. We started our experience with seeing two of my favorite presenters, Adam Bellow and Steve Dembo, do gadgets. I was so impressed with the projects both of them had made with maker space style gadgets. It honestly made me feel like I had let my own kids down, and I need to do more. Sunday continued with a visit to the Bloggers Cafe. I found this space to always be a great space to catch up with old friends, meet companies that don't have booths, and watch some of the big presentations. That's exactly what we did, and I think my wife was the bit overwhelmed by all the folks I said hi to.
The next three days are a bit of a blur. It feels like they moved way too quickly. Much of my time was spent on the exhibit floor strengthening relationships I already had by working their booths. Throughout the conference, I worked Symbaloo, Plickers, Quizizz, and Air Squirrels booth. I also presented my Touchcast snapshot and at a couple of booths. All of which I thought went incredibly well.
I, of course, did walk the exhibit floor a bit, and again it was about strengthening relationships. I saw my buddies at Osmo, Sphero, Kahoot, Wonder Workshop, Go Animate, Nearpod, Ipevo, and several more. I also got to talk with two of my new favorites Pi-Top and Bitsbox. If you have not seen them, you should check them out. Many of these relationships have paid off for me, and I am hoping some pay off in the future.
One of my favorite parts of ISTE is always ISTE after dark. This is where you get to see folks just cut loose and have fun. It also gave me a chance to really hang out with friends in my PLN because I don't see them that often. One of my favorite nights was Sunday night because it was the only time I really got to just hang low-key with friends. Monday and Tuesday were great though as I really got to hang out with the companies I was an ambassador for.
ISTE has awesome sessions, but if you are like me you have seen a whole lot of it. I did get to see one of the best sessions I have seen a while (Pernille Ripp's literacy session), but in reality, ISTE is all about building things I can use in the future. Those things are the relationships with both friends and companies I support. It all goes back to what education is all about: great relationships.