ISTE 2011 Conference Attendance: A CMLE Scholarship

The following was submitted by a CMLE scholarship recipient.

 Submitted By: Laurie Conzemius, Media Specialist, Pine Meadow Elementary – Sartell

With the support of CMLE I was able to attend the ISTE conference held in Philadelphia from June 25 – 29, 2011. Over 13,000 ISTE members attended this annual international conference. All of those in attendance have a strong interest in educational technology, but I spent most of my time with the media specialist special interest group (SIGMS) where the focus was on technology related to the teacher librarian role.

 The full conference kicked off on Sunday, June 26, with a morning brunch sponsored by the Big Deal Media. MEMO is one of BDM’s member organizations, and we receive branded newsletters from them bimonthly. The people of Big Book of Technology treated about 30 of us (4 from Minnesota, including 2 from TIES and Sally Mays and I from MEMO) to a fantastic meal at Supper, a “farm to table” restaurant in Philly. A highlight was listening to the owner/cook, Mitch Prensky, talk about the meal and menu. Of course the other highlight was eating the incredible food! From there my day was spent preparing for and presenting at the SIG Fair, where ISTE special interest groups provide information about their group. Then it was on to the opening keynote: an exciting way to begin the actual conference.

 Dr John Medina was our opening keynote speaker. Dr. Medina wrote the book Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School. We were all encouraged to tweet our questions and responses, and in a group of many thousands the comments were engaging, fun, and provided hours of continued conversation. There is nothing like an opening keynote event to provide excitement for the coming days! Although I found the keynote to be extremely thought provoking, one of my take-aways was in how the technology was used to encourage discussion. This continued through many other sessions, as the “back-channel” was well used in Philadelphia.

 On Monday our small group sessions began, and ISTE offers many hundreds to choose from! I spent the early morning volunteering at our SIGMS Library Media Playground. This is an open area with 8 stations where practicing media specialists demonstrated animation, video, wikis, and a huge array of web tools. I snuck away to attend a fast-paced session titled Learning Tools Family Feud, which provided a lively break mid-day with plenty of laughs, but lots of learning as well. On the serious side I attended a session on top 20 favorite free web tools (by one of my favorite presenters, Tammy Worchester), a hands-on training on Glogster EDU, and a session on developing your personal learning network by David Warlick.

 Tuesday came fast and furiously; with many more sessions than I could possible attend. This is where the power of an ISTE conference is, however, because I simply made a note of all the sessions I had hoped to attend and then didn’t go to those that were being recorded. ISTE records and posts many sessions so I can view these (and share them) following the conference! Yay! It truly is a way to be two places at once! I attended a breakfast sponsored by ProQuest in the morning and was pleased to be able to eat a good meal and give personal input on the CultureGrams program. It is extremely rewarding to have the opportunity to give suggestions on a software program that I use regularly with my students and staff!

 Along with many great sessions, the SIGMS Forum was a Tuesday highlight. Doug Johnson moderated a “Ted Talk” event with Anita Beaman, Cathy Jo Nelson, Gwyneth Jones, Buffy Hamilton and Shannan Miller. You can view the entire event here: I recommend you watch it with a few of your teacher librarian friends however!

 Wednesday, which was the last day of the conference and our travel day, started with a quick hotel checkout and the SIGMS Breakfast, Board Meeting and Keynote Will Richardson. It was also the last time that the members of the SIGMS board (with whom I meet via Skype monthly) were together in person. Outgoing chair Lisa Perez gave her final words to the group, and then incoming chair Maureen Sanders Brunner spoke about the direction SIGMS would be taking in the coming year. I will be serving one final year as communications chair for SIGMS. I truly have to say that this committee has been the most organized, most focused committee with whom I’ve ever had the opportunity to serve.

 I could go on and on about the sessions, events and experiences of ISTE 2011 in Philadelphia: attending this international conference has been so instrumental in my professional career. Next year’s ISTE conference will be held in San Diego (a wonderful city to visit!) and ISTE 2013 will take place in Chicago. I encourage you to attend! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want to know more about how you can get involved with ISTE, and especially with SIGMS! (

 Thank you once again to CMLE for assisting me in attending this fantastic professional experience! I appreciate CMLE!!