Monday, February 24, 2014

3 Tips to make the most out of a conference or expo

Conferences can be daunting. Tons of people and vendors bombarding your senses. We’re going to be at 2014 MACUL Conference in March, presenting in a pre-conference session, where over 2000 educators will come together to exchange experiences teaching with technology and ~150 exhibitors will com together to share a ton of valuable info and we want to make sure you get everything you want from the event.

We reached to a few educators via twitter to find out what every Macul attendee should do. What we learned was a great set of tips that can help you get the most out of any event you attend.

1) Get on Twitter

Twitter is a great tool for sharing and following updates from an event or conversation, especially when you uses hashtags. The 140 character limit requires tweeps (one who uses Twitter) to get to the point and share immense value.

The #MACUL14 hashtag has been busy for over a month now and I know that during the conference there is going to be a ton of great sharing so sign-up for twitter and start tweeting with speakers and vendors attending.

2) Catch the keynote

“Don't miss the keynotes because they will inspire you!” - Joanna Van Raden, Manchester Community Schools
Keynotes are talks given by influential or inspired individuals from a niche or industry. They usually share insights into recent trends that will be taking over an industry and also try to inspire attendees to take action and change the landscape of an industry or niche.

3) Have a game plan

Walking in blind will be overwhelming. Your attention will be pulled left, then right, up & down. When its all over you’ll walk out wondering what you even go out of the event. This time come up with no more than 3 goals for your time during the event. They should be related to trends going on at your organization. Then, look over the session & vendor list and choose the ones that you feel will best help you reach your goals.

"Make sure you map out 2-3 options each session.  One of the strongest bonuses to MACUL is the ability to leave one session and join another if the first doesn't turn out to be something you can use." - Ryan Ringle, Boyne City.

For this year’s MACUL Conference we suggest having goals related to 1:1 learning environments (specifically Chromebooks), free/paid apps that integrate with Google Apps, and integrating technology into flipped learning.

Bonus Tips: Wear comfortable clothing

This is a professional development event, so you’ll want to dress nicely, but you will be on your feet all day, walking between sessions and booths. Be sure your feet are well taken care of and the clothing you’re wearing will be comfortable hours later after walking a few miles.

To recap, get on Twitter. Attendees will be sharing info and having conversations about the event. Second, catch the keynotes, they inspire you to take action with the new information you’ve gathered. Last, plan ahead. There’s only so much time in a day and you have specific goals for your year, make the most of it! It doesn’t matter what type of event you attend, following these 3 tips will help you get the most out of your time.