Like a Kid in a Tech Candy's ISTE Time!

I've been running my proverbial butt off (don't I wish this was literal) trying to get ready to leave my home for 5 days.  With three kids, a dog, and a wide assortment of summer commitments, this gets to be a real challenge.  Thanks to multiple sets of grandparents, awesome neighbors, and my terrific friend, Teresa, everyone will be kept safe, sound, and happy....well as happy as a 17, 12, and 7 year old ever can be when they are being left behind while Mom and Dad head to Atlanta.

It's ISTE '14, people, and I'm stoked.  It's like an amusement park for people like me.  I dive into a crowd of 50,000+ people who have interests similar to mine, get to meet people with whom I've only ever conversed online, and get to soak in the plethora of tools, sites, tricks, and tips that make my world go 'round.

Summer time, for me, is a time to relax and renew, but also a time to reflect on this past year and set new goals for the next.  Like preparing for a marathon, it takes months of training and pushing yourself past your previous limits to be able to do something new and extraordinary.  Along the way, you may stumble, but you'll also get gloriously refreshing splashes of encouragement from friends, colleagues, Twitter peeps, and others along the way.  The time to build your PLN is now!

So, here's what I'm encouraging you to do.  Whether you are an old hat at this or brand new, I encourage you to follow #ISTE2014 on Twitter.  The fun has already begun, but formal conference material will begin to show up on Friday, June 27. If you don't get the whole hashtag hoopla (trust me, it was weird to all of us at one time), watch this short clip.  There are a number of reasons for following a conference on Twitter.  First, you're guaranteed to find GREAT content.  Second, it's free and you can sit and eat Cheetos and Coke while networking.  Third, you will meet people that will make you better. In order to do this though, I do recommend a couple of sites that can assist you in your Twitter conferencing.  There are several out there, but in the interest of time and the desire not to overwhelm, here are my favorites.

1.  Tweetdeck- This gem allows you to see multiple feeds at one time.  So, you can see your regular feed in one column, #ISTE2014 in another column, your direct messages in another, and so on. Hootsuite is another option for this.  Available via the web or as an app/download, it's a great way to access a lot of content in a neat and tidy package.

Once you've downloaded the app, you sign in with your Twitter account credentials. Voila!

2. Tweetchat- If this was a human (and I wasn't married), I'd fly this site to Vegas and marry it! I always did chats the "regular" way, with my feed just simultaneously mucking up the chat and making it hard to follow. I'd constantly be toggling back and forth to my feed to try to do too much at one time. This site cuts through the chaos. Simply, it has you sign in using your Twitter credentials and enter in the hashtag you want to follow or participate in.  When I am closely following a chat or a particular part of a conference I'm interested in, this is my go-to site.  The ability to focus is so much easier.  And when it comes to fast-paced chats and conferences, I like easier.
Step by step directions on the site walk you through exactly what you need!

ISTE2014 officially begins on Saturday morning.  Through Tuesday, expect to find some of this year's greatest ways to use technology to its fullest.  Hop on a little each day and make sure you have your Draggo or other social bookmarking tool fired up!  Look me up on Twitter @rlangenhorst. I'll be posting all sorts of fun along the way!


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