Over the weekend, I was in Grapevine TX at a planning meeting for the 2015 CSTA Conference. This year, I am the Program Chair so I was excited to take part. We were evaluating the workshop and session proposals and put together just an incredible program. It’s not just me – I think everyone around the table stood back when we were done and gave a collective “Wow”. The details are embargoed for now but will come out shortly. You’ll read about it here.
I did have an interesting, unrelated observation…I was going to buy a poppy there and compare it to the one that I bought here in Canada. I didn’t see anyone selling poppies though. Not even at the VFW booth in the airport. Perhaps wearing a poppy is a Canadian thing?
Anyway, I flew back into Detroit late last night after being challenged with some mental airplane math – Grapevine is in the Central Time Zone which observes Daylight Saving Time so I had changed the time on all of my devices. We were moving to the Eastern Time zone where the clocks change as well and I just had to reconcile in my mind the takeoff and landing times from my itinerary in my mind. The payoff this morning was a bit of sunlight for the morning walk so ultimately it’s worth it.
At the airport, I dined on some Texas BBQ which I’m sure was 70% salt. As I got over the bridge, my tongue was hanging out so I decided to hit the drive-through at McDonald’s just to grab a drink. Believe it or not, there were three of us in line and it took almost 10 minutes to get through. As I sat there, my wife pulled out my phone to see what was happening – I’m too cheap to pay the huge Bell costs for roaming internet – only to find at first look I was still connected to a US signal. As soon as we made the turn and the building was between us and the states, we picked up a Canadian signal, connected, and the notifications started going off like crazy.
One of them was from Brian Aspinall who had written a blog post “What to Expect – For The #bit14 First Timer“. I mentally bookmarked that to read once I got home. I needed that drink to quench my thirst. That was the first priority.
Brian had written an interesting post. It was something like I was going to write for today so I won’t replicate it. Please read Brian’s post above and then come back here for the rest of mine.
Instead, for those who will be attending this year and were there last year, I’d like to highlight some of the ways that we’ve improved your conference experience.
- The registration desk will be moved to the front part of the prefunction area instead of the side. You’ll see it as soon as you enter the Centre. Hopefully, you won’t see a large lineup. Registration opens Tuesday night. For people who are walk-ins, on-site registration will take place there as well;
- You’ll enter the Exhibit Hall from the front instead of the side this year. We found that the side entrance just wasn’t big enough and was a source for traffic jams;
- The Learning Space will not be in the Exhibit Hall – we’ve moved it to the front, near the entrance to the Exhibit Hall. It’s a really funky looking meeting nook with some cool furniture. Please, please, please – sign in. Not electronically, but there will be a big plastic sheet where you can show off your Twitter handle for everyone to see. Later on, grab your mobile device and start adding Ontario Educators to your network;
- If you’re using an Apple TV or Chromecast device, we hope not to get blind sided this year! We have a way to get you connected – if you’re a presenter, you should have received an email about it already. If you ignored that email but still need to use your device, please revisit it!
- We’ve created a couple of new rooms in the Convention Centre to accommodate more presentations. Last year, we filled every nook and cranny and needed more. So, there will be two ad hoc rooms created with drape and piping on the main floor. To be consistent with the Convention Centre naming convention (say that fast three times), they will be rooms 101 and 103;
- The committee will be wearing beautiful Hunter green shirts. I finally won something. Please take the time to say thanks to the committee for a year’s worth of planning;
- The Social Committee has added a new social event – the #Selfie Scavenger Hunt. There will be prizes so check out the rules and make sure that your device is charged. All the social events are listed here;
- You probably know this already – we’ve added additional conference hotels;
- We have a new route for the Run with Alana;
- We’ve made arrangements for discounts for your dinner. Just show your wait staff your conference badge;
- The social activities have exploded! You liked it last year; you’ll like them even better this year. There are over 150 people registered for the Photowalk by the Falls; 70 people for the Run with Alana; over 65 for the Jam session; over 50 for the Minecraft LAN Party – you can’t help leaving the event without making new connections;
- The Convention Centre has upgraded their bandwidth. Last year, they had enough for a good sized business conference but they don’t know teachers. Everybody has at least two devices connected all the time; They’ll be broadcasting two networks – if you have a device that will connect to a 5GHz network, that should be your preferred choice. If you have older stuff, there will be a Legacy network as well;
- We have a social network team that’s really working the social networks – look for #BIT14 on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Google Plus;
- There will be a large number of sessions offered in French. We hope that this, the fact that the website and Lanyrd are available in both languages, will make the conference friendly for all Ontario Educators;
- We will have the coolest entry in the Exhibit Hall. I’m not sharing that detail; you’ve got to find it and interact on your own;
- There’s a lot of push to make the Lanyrd resource easier to use. make sure that you have the app on your portable device;
- and probably there are other things that I’ve overlooked. You’ll find them.
When you arrive, check in and then go sign the wall in the Learning Space. Take the time to visit with the Exhibitors; play in their discovery areas; say hi to someone in a green shirt.
Most of all, have three wonderful days of learning and connections. This is THE technology conference for Ontario Educators.