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Getting the Most from Conferences

As you may already know, the 2014 CSTA conference on K-12 computer science education will take place July 14 and 15 at the beautiful Pheasant Run resort in St. Charles , IL (just outside of Chicago) and CSTA wants to make sure that all of the attendees find the conference as stimulating and rewarding as possible.

Each year, the conference planning committee strives to make this the best CSTA conference ever. Over the last few years this has included adding and expanding the selection of half-day workshops and break-out sessions and adding in-conjunction events. We also videotape several of the sessions so that attendees (and other CSTA members) can see presentations they were unable to attend in person.

But there are also things that you can do to make the CSTA annual conference a more professionally and personally rewarding experience for you. Here are a few simple tips.

1. Plan in advance. Read the session descriptions and presenter biographies posted on the conference website prior to the conference at so you can decide in advance which ones will best meet your learning needs. (http://csta.acm.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/sub/CSTAConference.html)
2. Pick topics that strengthen your weak points. This way you can increase your chances of learning something new.
3. Take advantage of opportunities for networking. Casual conversation after sessions, during meals, and at the reception can help you expand your professional community.
4. Ask questions and listen. It is very likely that other workshop and session attendees share similar issues and they might be able to provide new insights or ideas.
5. Move outside your circle of friends. Making an effort to talk to and socialize with people you don’t already know will help you make new professional contacts.
6. Jot down new ideas, insights, questions or solutions on index cards and include contact information if this came from an interesting new colleague.
7. Apply new ideas immediately. The real value of any professional development event is the ability to take ideas and strategies home with you and put them to work.

While it is true that these tips can be applied to any professional development experience, we hope that they will encourage you to attend the only conference that is focuses exclusively on K-12 computer science and information and so is designed especially for you.

What helps you get the most of the PD events that you attend?

Chris Stephenson
CSTA Executive Director

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