The Edublogger’s Guide To #ISTE17 – Sessions, Food, Tips, and More!

We can’t believe we are less than one week away from ISTE 2017, the biggest educational technology conference in the world!

This year’s event is in San Antonio, Texas and takes place from June 24th – 28th.

Some of the Edublogs and CampusPress team will be in attendance this year – be sure to stop by booth #2356 and say hello!

We’ve put together an itinerary of events and sessions that we have our eye on, along with some tips and ideas to help make the most of the week. Importantly, we’ve included our favorite places to eat and visit too. Let’s dive in!

Visiting San Antonio

If you haven’t been to San Antonio before, you are in for a treat. A perfect mix of Texan and Mexican cultures, the one-of-a-kind River Walk through the center of downtown, and a fascinating history.

Getting Around

Using Lyft is our preferred rideshare app and favorite way of getting around. There was a period of time when Uber and Lyft had left the San Antonio area, but a new Texas state law that went into effect just last month means that ridesharing state-wide is now here to stay – just in time for ISTE. Phew!

The city also has a pretty substantial public transportation network called VIA, and of course, ISTE has a great shuttle system that can help you get to and from your hotel.

What To See

Lucky for us, we have a former San Antonian on our team (Edublogs_Jason) and his sister-in-law, Kristy Hernandez (KristyOutAndAbout) is a former Duchess of The Riverwalk and works for Visit San Antonio. There seriously may be no person in Texas, or the world, who loves San Antonio as much as Kristy. Many thanks to Kristy and Jason for helping put this list together!

No trip to San Antonio would be complete without a visit to the Alamo – which is just a few blocks from the convention center. Your first impression may be that it seems smaller than you had imagined. But it was here where a few hundred in the Texas militia holed up against a much larger Mexican army in the great siege of early 1836. You would expect to learn that the Texans won this fight given the prominence and fame of the Alamo. However, it was really more of a massacre and an overwhelming victory for the Mexican army. The battle of the Alamo is famous because “remember the Alamo” became a rallying cry for the Texans and their ultimate victory of independence.

If Texas history interests you, then the new Battle For Texas Experience inside the nearby Rivercenter Mall is a must. It has the largest number of artifacts from the Alamo around, many of which, oddly enough, were formerly part of Phil Collin’s personal collection.

During your stay, you will also want to find time to just wander and get lost along the “River Walk”, which is a lowered level of the San Antonio River and runs right through the city. It is often cooler and shadier to walk below along the river, which avoids traffic and street lights too. You’ll find shops, restaurants, and more, with activity here around the clock.

Another fun thing to do is a river barge tour. The tours are about 45 minutes to an hour and give you a chance to see a long stretch of the River Walk while learning some San Antonio history.

And if you have some extra time and want to venture outside of the downtown area, then the San Antonio Zoo and The Witte Museum are just north of downtown.

Where To Eat

If you stick to the areas immediately around the Convention Center and along the River Walk, most of the restaurants will be more tourist focused – which generally means higher prices and perhaps not as good of quality that you’ll find a little further out.

But there are some exceptions in the downtown area worth checking out. Our downtown pick for traditional Texas BBQ is the County Line, which is on the River Walk. We can eat the Shiner Bock Beer Bread here by the pound, not to mention the slow-smoked BBQ brisket.

A post shared by @countylineriverwalk on

Another option on the River Walk is Boudro’s. They are known for their Prickly Pear Cactus drinks and their tableside guacamole.

For Tex-Mex, including a glorious breakfast, Mi Tierra is a favorite of mine, and a must each time I visit San Antonio. It is probably just a bit too far to walk to from the Convention Center in the summer heat, but worth the short Lyft ride for sure. This place is open 24 hours a day, and is next door to the Historic Market Square, which is also worth a quick stop to see the Mexican crafts, souvenirs, and imports.

Other great restaurants to check out downtown are: The Esquire, Rebelle, Moshe’s Kitchen, Acenar, Zocola, and La Panderia. You can’t go wrong!

There are areas not far from downtown that offer some uniquely San Antonian dining spots as well.

Kristy says a visit to The Pearl is a must! It is located about 2 miles from downtown, and you can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants in this area. Her favorites are: Grayze, Shuck Shack, La Gloria, Cured, Southerleigh, The Grainery, Supper and the Luxury.

While at The Pearl, you should definitely walk into Hotel Emma, which was once a 19th century brewhouse now turned hotel, restaurant, and bar.

The Pearl is also home to Jazz TX, a new music venue that is open on Tuesday – Saturday from 5pm on.

Southtown is another hip area located not far from downtown with a growing number of places to stop in, relax, eat, and more. Jason’s favorite Southtown hangout is The Friendly Spot, a low-key, outdoor place to hang out with friends once the sun goes down and the “cool” evening breeze kicks up. You’ll likely bump into him there at least once during ISTE, for sure.

Before You Go

A little planning can go a long way, so be sure to do the following before heading to San Antonio:

  • Download the ISTE Mobile app and be sure you can login – you should have received an email from ISTE with the information you need.
  • Do a twitter search for the #ISTE17 hashtag, even if you don’t really use twitter. Check in and see the tweets already flooding the interwebs from excited attendees. Follow along throughout the week to learn about surprise events and follow sessions and conversations too.
  • Figure out how you are going to organize your plan – for example, I add events and sessions to my Google Calendar.
  • There are quite a few other posts with tips on preparing for the conference. Here are a few: Frame Of Mind, Packing List For Newbies, and What’s In Your Bag?.

Our Itinerary

The food and sights are important, but ISTE is all about the learning and connecting with others. On that note, here’s a quick overview of where we plan to be and the sessions and events we think many of you will enjoy too.

Saturday, June 24

Hack Education: The Unconference
8:00 am–4:00 pm – Room 217BC
The all-day unconference filled with interesting conversations in a highly social environment.

Sunday, June 25

Global Education Day (3-hour Forum)
2:00–5:00 pm – Hemisfair Ballroom 3
Three-hour mini-conference for those interested in globally connecting students and teachers. Limited space so registration is required.

Opening Keynote
5:45 – 7:00 pm – Hall 1
Jad Abumrad – host and creator of public radio’s “Radiolab”.

Poster Sessions: Global Collaboration
7:00 – 8:00 pm – Parkview Lobby
42 different poster sessions, all discussing global collaboration.

Monday, June 26

Free Breakfast In The Vendor Hall
9:45 – 10:15 am – Hall 2-4, Expo Hall
Grab free continental breakfast and check out the vendor hall. Say hi to us at booth #2356!

Poster Session: Reflection is Learning: Blogging for Professional Growth
11:00 am–1:00 pm – Park View Lobby, Table 6
Talk about why to blog, how to get the word out about it, and what to write about.

Getting Real About Digital Portfolio Rollout
11:30 am–12:30 pm – Room 214B
Choose the right platform, how private/public should digital portfolios be, how to address student choice, and how to plan professional learning.

Student-Driven PLN Blogging
12:00–1:00 pm – Room 303AB
Empower students to become digital leaders by using their personal learning network to drive their writing through blogging.

Poster Session: Blogging in the Middle School Language Arts Classroom
2:00–4:00 pm – Tower View Lobby, Table 31
Learn how blogging has impacted an eighth grade language arts classroom.

Equity and Access in the Digital Classroom
4:00–5:00 pm – Room 214C
Examine research, best practices, and specific roles of technology in improving access and personalization toward equity.

ISTE Meetups And Social Events
5pm – 9pm – Various Locations
Informal meetups and all are welcome. Choose a topic that you are interested in and go!

Tuesday, June 27

8:30-9:45 am – Hall 1
Jennie Magiera – the Chief Innovation Officer at Des Plaines Public Schools

Free Breakfast In The Vendor Hall
9:45 – 10:15 am – Hall 2-4, Expo Hall
Grab free continental breakfast and check out the vendor hall. Say hi to us at booth #2356!

How to choose safe and effective apps
1:15–2:15 pm – Room 212
Discuss how to vet apps and what to know about privacy policies and what to look out for.

Poster Session: Mastery Based Grading vs Portfolios…Can they work together?
4:00–6:00 pm – Tower View Lobby, Table 41
Learn how to combine mastery-based grading and portfolios to help your students paint a clear picture of their educational journey and illustrate their success.

EdTech Karaoke Party
7:00-11:00 pm – Aztec Theater
You must register here to attend, and pick up your badge at booth #1526.

Wednesday, June 28

PLN Playground: Tips and Tools for Advancing Your Network
9:00 am–1:00 pm – Hemisfair Ballroom Foyer
Expand your professional learning network using Twitter, Pinterest, MOOCs, online communities and more!

Blog-Based Portfolios Feedback Loops
10:00–11:00 am – Room 205
Discover the power of blog-based portfolios for capturing real-time project decision-making and feedback.

Poster Session: The Power of Your Digital Tattoo: Online Safety for Kids
11:00 am–1:00 pm – Tower View Lobby, Table 7
Explore lessons and activities to educate students, parents, and staff on appropriate online activity.

Closing Keynote and 2018 Preview
2:45-4:00 pm – Hall 1
Reshma Saujani – CEO of Girls Who Code

Anything We Missed?

Have a tip, favorite session, or anything else you’d like to share? Place it in the comments below and we’ll work it into the post.

We also look forward to keeping up with all of the blog posts, tweets, instagrams, and more from the sessions and events at ISTE.

We hope to see you there!

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