Conference Checklist

This week I’ve been reading about lots of conferences going on around the country, and North Carolina’s own NC TIES is coming up at the end of the week. If you are fortunate enough to be attending one of these conferences, I’m super jealous. If it’s your first time attending a professional conference, particularly one focusing on technology, you may be wondering what you need to bring. I thought I’d share a few ideas…

1. Your favorite multi-functional device. I don’t leave home without my netbook and my iPhone. They complete all functions that I’m probably going to need while I’m learning, boot quickly and hold battery for a long time. A device with a camera is definitely an asset. I use mine to make lists, capture ideas from presentation slides, and get information. It’s a lot easier to go through my pictures after the conference to find someone’s contact information than to hunt down that sheet of paper where I wrote it down or try to remember it.

2. Power cords. Check and check again. There’s nothing worse than not being able to finish something that you start! If you want a quick and easy way to make friends, bring a power strip. Outlets are a luxury, it seems, especially when everyone is trying to plug in.

3. A sweater, sweatshirt, or coat. I am always cold, so I rarely leave home without something to cover my shoulders with, but it is really difficult to concentrate when you are freezing.

4. Business Cards/Contact Info: There will be lots of vendors with give aways, and you’ll be asked to fill out lots of forms with your contact information. If you don’t want to repeatedly fill things out, try printing a sheet of address labels with your name, email address and school mailing address. You could also include your Twitter ID and web address. You can always bring along business cards to exchange, but they definitely aren’t necessary.

5. Notepad and Pencil: So 20th century, I know… but I have been to lots of conferences where the facility’s wifi capabilities can’t keep up with the demand of multiple devices per attendee. The last thing you want is to miss out on important info!

6. Pre-load: Does your conference have an app with all of the maps, schedules and events listed more easily? Will there be a consistent site for back channeling or follow up, like Edmodo? If so, get these things before you go. I like to go through the conference agenda and decide on the sessions I want to attend, then I put them into my digital calendar with the location information. That way, I get a pop up reminder of where to go a few minutes before, and I don’t have to shuffle through programs to find it.

7. Socialize: Find out what vendors and special interest groups are hosting social events during the conference. It’s always fun to meet other educators who have similar professional interests, but connecting on a personal level makes keeping these new relationships more likely. There are Tweet Ups and dinners, so don’t miss out!