IDEAcon 2023 - Victoria’s Top 5 “Know Before You Go” Tips
by Victoria Thompson
I attended my first IDEAcon in 2022 and was instantly hooked. I had a fantastic time presenting, connecting, and learning from people. This is a “must attend” conference for me: the attention to detail of the events, participant service, and session content is outstanding. In fact, I love it so much that my wife made me an annual pass (which I plan on bringing with me this year)!
You may be wondering what to expect, what sessions to attend, or even what the environment is like. If you’ve never attended an IDEAcon before, this article is for you! Here are my top 5 “know before you go” tips for IDEAcon 2023.
1. Check out the website beforehand to see if there’s any sessions that pique your interest. The IDEAcon 2023 website is super informative and gives a view of who is presenting and what they are presenting on, as well as several strands of knowledge. IDEAcon is a conference that has thousands of attendees with roles that range from IT specialists, educators, instructional coaches, school leadership, and more–you’re bound to find something that catches your eye! Previewing which sessions you’d like to attend may also help you plan your conference schedule better. There are also virtual/on demand sessions that you can view if you cannot attend IDEAcon in person. My in-person sessions this year focus on using data to drive positive school solutions, equity in instructional coaching, and teaching students to research in mathematics.
2. Make time to connect with people outside of sessions and keynotes. I attend several conferences each year and I’m always blown away at the presence of community at IDEAcon. It seemed like at every avenue I was running into people I had met the day before, seeing people who I had met in sessions, and meeting new folks who were willing to introduce themselves and get to know more about them. Not only that, but we would make conscious efforts to find shared time to meet up and follow through with seeing each other again. Nearly every evening we would all be grabbing dinner together or meeting up in the lobby of the hotel to chat, and every morning we could reconvene and grab breakfast together. We have also stayed connected after the conference via texting, video calls, and seeing each other at other conferences. There is very much an emphasis on establishing connections at IDEAcon, which is something that doesn’t happen at every conference. These are now friends that I look forward to seeing every year.
3. Don’t skip out on the Exhibit Hall. If you’ve never been to an expo hall at a conference before, it’s amazing–education companies and organizations are there to meet you, speak with you, tell you a little bit more about what they can offer, and often have swag bags and gifts. The IDEAcon Exhibit Hall is no different and gives you opportunities to connect with people from various education companies and organizations. There are also activities that you can participate in at the Exhibit Hall.
4. The IDEA Illinois staff is friendly–introduce yourself to them! IDEA Illinois is known for their service and hospitality. If you see one of their staff or one of their volunteers, introduce yourself! They enjoy meeting people who are there and seeing who is part of the conference.
5. Stay connected after the conference. IDEA Illinois has so many ways for you to stay connected after the conference, as well as throughout the year. For example, did you know that you can sign up to be a member of IDEA Illinois for free–even if you are not a citizen of the state of Illinois? I joined when I lived in Seattle and have retained my membership now that I am in Florida. They also have many events that you can participate in throughout the course of the year that range from wellness journeys to webinars to playgrounds and much more. And of course, stay connected with them on Twitter at @IDEAIllinois and on LinkedIn at Illinois Digital Educators Alliance.
Haven't registered for IDEAcon 2023 yet? Make sure you don't miss out on learning with Victoria live in just one month by registering at ideacon.ideaillinois.org. And if you want to see more of Victoria right now, check out this video where she talks about why IDEAcon is a must and how to learn with her and connect at the conference.
Victoria Thompson is an Education Industry Executive at Microsoft Education and an ISTE Community Leader. She began her journey teaching fifth and sixth grade math and science in Summerville, SC. After completing her masters degree in curriculum and instruction she moved to the Seattle, WA area in 2018, where her career has pivoted to focusing on digital transformation, STEM integration in schools, technology in instruction, and using technology to bridge equity gaps in education. She has presented at ISTE, FETC, TCEA, IDEAcon, ImpactEducation, CUE, and DigCitSummit on topics such as creating inclusive math classrooms, the intersectionality of literacy and STEM, culturally responsive STEM education, and equity in educational technology. Additionally, she was recently awarded the title of one of the top 30 K-12 IT influencers in 2021 by EdTech Magazine. She now lives in Winter Garden, FL with her wife, Kourtney, and her dog, Ren.