I do not regret that decision what so ever. That weekend was probably one of the best in my life. I had the chance to participate in workshops that helped me see how I could further engage technology in the classroom and allow students to create using it. The discussions about technology in the classroom and the barriers that we still face were amazing! Visiting the exhibit hall and all the different vendors...mmmm, ok I could have dealt with a little less of some of them; however, it was still amazing! I even won an interactive projector! And that leads me to my next point.
I do not think I would have had as meaningful of time at ISTE if it wasn't for my connections on Twitter. I usually tweet about my thoughts on education (in particular Elementary Education), life, participate in educational chats, and retweet ideas that I think are interesting (even if I do not agree if the thought completely). For example, one woman I communicate a lot over Twitter with and I got to finally meet each other in real life. The connection she and I made allowed me to experience a way to expand my network. I was able to meet more people and also participate in a powerful meeting that was not going to come my way if it had not been for this connection speaking about me! (Thank you)
I think the biggest take away from this conference is not about the workshops! The workshops are great (some at least). The exhibit hall is huge! Some of the speeches from the Ignite sessions were wonderful (for example P.D. is not a Four Letter Word). But what about the connections and network you make? I am thankful for the evening events from the conference. Great food, free food, and good music were at these events...TURN DOWN FOR WHAT! However, the most amazing part of these events was networking! I think I was able to gain more perspective by networking and connecting. From meeting people from Prince George's County, MD to meeting people from Brazil, the interactions between these people and I were amazing. The ideas and views of education and educational technology were transactional. It was amazing to meet people who were passionate, not just about their jobs, but passionate about helping students become better. I can say honestly, I have thought about moving away from Atlanta to Texas or Maryland because of some of these people to enhance the realm of education/ed technology.
There is so much more I could write about my experience. I will share more of my thoughts over the next few days. Connections and networking are more powerful than just attending a workshop! If I did not learn anything else, I have learned that everyone has a wealth of knowledge about something. If you connect with people, it is amazing how that knowledge can be transferred!