Sara Murray
It' 's all about the connections

As part of our recent Member Appreciation Month festivities in February, we asked ISTE members, “How can ISTE better support your work?” We received over 1,000 submissions, and the answers were so insightful that I just had to share.

One theme that rose to the top was that it’s not easy to be an ed tech proponent in education today. Many tech coordinators and tech coaches are alone in their schools, and it’s up to them to keep up to date on the latest learning technologies so they can help the teachers in their school make a difference in their students’ learning. And teachers who want to advocate for better use of technology in the classroom often need to jump through many hoops to make it happen. It takes creativity, knowledge and persistence to make a difference.

It’s clear that ed tech enthusiasts need help, so we asked members how ISTE can support them best. Many had the same answer: They want to learn from one another, hear success stories and share their own experiences with others who can benefit. It’s that desire to learn and share that makes our members so special.

The role ISTE plays in all this is relatively simple: We provide a venue where members can come together to network and share — the ISTE communities.
About a year ago, we introduced a new community called ISTE Commons. Think of it as Facebook for ISTE members. The platform lets you share stories, ask questions and get answers from other members on the discussion boards. ISTE Commons has more than 23,000 members who share an interest in ed tech, which makes it the perfect place to find experts and peers in any education-related field. All members are welcome to participate in ISTE Commons to learn and share accomplishments, challenges and questions. Nonmembers can also access the community, so feel free to invite colleagues and friends who might be interested!

For members, we also offer the ISTE Professional Learning Networks (PLNs), each of which has its own interest-based community. The network has nearly 8,000 members in 28 PLNs focusing on ed tech topics ranging from arts and technology to digital citizenship. If you want to collaborate, connect and share with specialists in your field, join a PLN and introduce yourself!
Once you’ve established relationships with like-minded educators in the PLNs, you can take it a step further by meeting fellow members face to face at the ISTE Conference & Expo. As tech-focused as we all are today, it’s refreshing and invigorating to shake a hand, bump a fist or even share a hug with a friend in real life.

And the connections you make really can last a lifetime. Danielle H. shared, “I can’t wait to network with like-minded people at the best ed tech conference on earth.” That’s what it’s all about: connecting with peers who share your passion for harnessing technology to improve learning for students.

We truly appreciate our members because we know they are the heart of ISTE. And our members concur that one of the best ways to make use of your ISTE membership is to reach out and make connections in the vast ISTE community. So stop by ISTE Commons and introduce yourself or start a discussion. Browse our free resources to find a solution to your problem. Join a PLN and start networking. The possibilities are endless when you’re surrounded by dedicated ed tech leaders!

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