Last month, I had the opportunity to give an Ignite Talk at the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Conference in Denver, Colorado. When attending a conference of this scale, it's important to have a strategy going in, especially as a first-time attendee and presenter. Since my talk was on the final day of the conference, I was able to go to sessions and learn about different tools and strategies and volunteer one day with the ISTE Inclusive Learning Network at their Accessible Media Playground.
To prepare for the conference, I downloaded the ISTE app for both my phone and my iPad. I bookmarked all the sessions that were of interest, namely sessions on Google Apps and accessibility. I was able to attend sessions on Google Cardboard, Google Cultural Institute, Google Accessibility, and Apple Watch accessibility. I also attended sessions that addressed professional development at district and school levels, which was particularly helpful for me in thinking about planning and working with Boston Public Schools teachers and school leaders for the coming school year. Of all the sessions I attended, I enjoyed the 20 minute Google Accessibility session run by Laura Palmaro of Google. I appreciated hearing about the different features, apps, and extensions including those that were recommended by teachers. The acoustics in the room were excellent and the presentation was straightforward and gave me ideas for how I want to show our teachers how to use the apps and extensions for their professional and instructional use.
A second way I prepared for ISTE was designing my Ignite Talk. When I found out that I was accepted, I had about a month to submit my slidedeck and a month and a half to rehearse my talk. Ignite Talks were a new concept for me - 5 minutes, 20 slides, 15 seconds each. To prepare, I watched Ignite Talks on YouTube that were accessible with captions (there weren't many) and read as many blog posts that I could find. Jenn Scheffer's blog post was particularly helpful because she shared the steps that she took to prepare. I referenced my original proposal to provide structure for my slidedeck. I dictated my speech using my Voice Memos app on my phone. The speech was left alone for weeks before I finally transcribed it. I then shared it with my partner, colleagues, and friends, then revised it according to the images I was using in my slidedeck. On the day of my talk, I was so nervous and drank so much water and chewed on gum so that I would not have a dry mouth! When it came time to present, I wasn't nervous anymore. I spoke from the heart and no point was left unsaid. I'm immensely grateful to ISTE and the Young Educators Network (YEN) for inviting me to give the talk.
Finally, I am grateful that this conference gave me the opportunity to deepen relationships with other educators that I met online. By volunteering with the ISTE Inclusive Learning Network, I learned more about the work that fellow educators were doing around inclusive design with websites, social media, and augmented reality. I participated in their Accessible Media Playground and taught conference attendees about PDF accessibility. This coming year, I am honored to be one of the Leadership Officers of the Inclusive Learning Network.
Thank you to ISTE for giving me this fantastic opportunity! I look forward to applying new knowledge, deepening existing relationships, and giving more Ignite Talks in the coming year(s)!