Conference season is in full swing. No matter what part of the country (or world, really) you live in, there is sure to be an EdTech conference nearby over the next few months. Your hotel reservations have been made, your conference is all mapped out, and you know all the vendor booths that have the best swag. It will be a great week of learning for sure, but here are 5 predictions I’m ready to make for TCEA:

5 – Augmented Reality sessions will be PACKED

As more and more districts in Texas have various device initiatives (BYOD, 1:1, 1:x, etc), more and more folks are interested in learning about augmented reality. Apps like Aurasma and ColAR will make waves as educators from elementary to high school think about how they could add a Layar (see what I did there?) of interactivity to their classroom.

4 – The wifi will go down

This isn’t an indictment, trust me. If anything, this could be viewed as a good problem to have. More than 10,000 educators are descending upon the state’s capital and cramming into one convention center in a city already known for its overcrowding and traffic problems. Mix in that many people trying to fit through the same access points with the number of people that insist on using their own mifi devices (which, in a very non-technical explanation, short-circuits the access points, causing more wifi problems rather than alleviating them). That being said, the TCEA staff has worked extremely hard to improve wifi every year by adding more bandwidth and more access points. But it will still go down.

3 – The vendor hall will make your brain hurt

More than 450 vendors will fill the exhibit hall floor and, especially if you’re more of the introverted type, it’s more than a little overwhelming. You could literally spend your entire conference experience just in the exhibit hall and, depending on your role, that may not be a bad idea. It might be that you’re wary of vendors and their slick sales pitches, but in my experience, that’s not the norm. There are some very warm, caring people that truly want you to succeed in your classroom or school and want to share one resource that might be valuable to you. Don’t stop at all the booths and don’t be afraid to say no and move on, but do make an effort to talk to them. There are some excellent relationships just waiting to happen!

2 – Educators will find their way to 6th street

This is so obvious, it probably shouldn’t make the list. However, the world-famous bar scene that exists just two blocks away is a sure-fire source of entertainment for educators that have just spent the entire day learning. My recommendations: grab a burger at Casino el Camino, play pool at Buffalo Billiards, cheer on your favorite footy team at Fado (note: technically off of 6th street, but infinitely a better choice than B.D. Riley’s), check out the hilarious sketch comedy at Esther’s Follies, and close down everyone’s favorite piano bar: Pete’s Dueling Pianos. Then get up early and go learn some more!

1 – TCEA will facilitate lasting friendships

The number one best reason to attend TCEA is the people. Folks like
@woscholar@ipadsammy,@TracyClark08@mattbgomez@zachsnow@getheather, and SO many more will be more than happy to sit down in the Digital Square and chat with you. Far too many conferences these days seem to be pretentious shows of self-aggrandizing nonsense. Not TCEA. The quality of people at this conference cannot be overstated. Chalk it up to our southern charm, maybe, but the folks at TCEA are not only the best in their field, but the nicest in all of EdTech. So say hi already and don’t be a stranger!

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 9.46.15 AMGreg Garner is currently an Educational Technologist at Eanes ISD in Austin, TX and is our “teacher blogger on location” for the week- covering all the great events, sessions and learning happening at the TCEA Conference.  Follow him on Twitter at @classroom_tech and find him at the conference to say hi in person.

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