So, you want to host a #notat…….

Several people have written me emails or sent DM with questions about how to host a #NOTAT……. for other upcoming conferences……

So, here are my thoughts:

Step One:
Don’t overthink it, or you won’t do it.
I expected 20 to join this group — we are almost to 300.   🙂

Step Two:
Gather the troops!
Start with a simple google form
formto gather people’s information (I forgot to gather zip codes – which then we could have taken into mapalist to make a very nice map of all our participants.)
(If you don’t have a google account — get one — it will be your very best friend!)
I also created a google doc with info, a google presentation for people to share about themselves, and a G+ Community.   (This was my first time setting up a G+ and I made the mistake of making it private – sorry, that was an oops!)
If you have never used Google – after you log into your gmail account — look for the tiny 9 box up
dotsby the bell on your page, click on that, it will take you to everything you need:   Drive (for documents), G+ (for your community) and more.   Use the hashtag or twitter account when you announce your group — that will help it be seen by everyone who is following the conference on twitter.

Step Three:
Be ready for conversation!
and be personable.
I sent out a welcome email with information to each new member.
As they began to build their slides and post to our community — others stepped up with “welcomes” and “oh, tell me more”, etc.   Our community was very welcoming, very helpful, and very kind.
But to be honest, I think I was busier being #NOTATISTE14 than I would have been at ISTE2014.   Watching twitter, getting requests to join, looking for links, etc took time.

which leads to

Step Four:
Do Not Do This Alone!
Not soon after we began to get a lot of interest, I realized that I needed help.  Plus, I had some personal things (this weekend) I needed to take care of and needed to be Away From The Computer — so I recruited helpers.  Vicky Sedgwick and Lindsay Foster became moderators.  (that meant that they could OK people into the Google Community, etc.)   Vicky started an idea with Badges that just took off and the photowalk was her idea as well.   Sue Waters and Craig Yen keep things current on flipboard and twitter and Jeffrey See went above and beyond by getting vendors to provide doorprizes for our challenge!
In fact, there is an entire extension of our group on VOXER that I have no clue what is going on…..but I trust that Barb Gilman and Vicky Sedgwick are taking good care of it.
Don’t feel you have to have your team in place before you begin — but when people step up to help, let them fly!!!

Step Five:
Make it FUN!!
For me, there had to be more to #NOTATISTE14 than just a hashtag….so I created the CHALLENGE.   10 ways to get points at ISTE and get #notatiste14 people really to feel that were there — virtually.
People started suggesting ideas for challenge points, we had some confusion and needed to clarify some challenge points, and I created a google spreadsheet where people could track their own points (using the honor system) — and though not everyone jumped on board with this — several are having a grand time.
We are also going to try a Google Hangout Karaoke — more on this later.
SO — add some fun to your event.   You don’t have to have challenges, but have something that involves your group in a creative way

Step Six:
Check Your Ego at the Door
You are going to get thank you’s and you are going to get other thoughts as well.  If you are controlling — like I can be, I admit it — you will have to step back and let people run with ideas.    If you feel you HAVE to have your fingerprints on everything — you will be frustrated, your group will be frustrated, and there will be regrets.    People are going to forget how this community started —  people will NOT forgot what this community provided.   And it is NEVER just one person on a team.

Step Seven:
Protect Your Community
Though we were open to everyone — there were certain protective things – important to me — that I implemented for our group.
#1 — I protected their emails.   When sending info to the group, I BCCed.
If they put their email on their slide in the presentation, I didn’t worry about it — they had posted it!
#2 — We did not let vendors into the community to “vendor”
After ISTE2013, where vendors infiltrated the bloggers cafe disguised as “friends” — I had my guard up when companies joined.
After 2 occurrences of what I felt was solicitation and after having sent DM to both companies
— I removed the “vendors’ from our group and posted this:
Gentle Reminder.   #NOTATISTE14 is not a venue where “vendors” are welcome to solicit members — either in chats or in back-channel conversations.   If you wish to share MORE about your product, please do so ONCE by commenting to our twitter account (   Today, I have had to ban 2 people from our group for solicitingI Please respect the members of this group who joined the group to learn and share about #ISTE2014 from afar.   THANK YOU, Jennifer
We have not had any problems since.
#3 — I kept an eye on ideas that sprouted up.
Though I really wished people to fly with ideas, this NOTATISTE14 did have my name attached to it…..and if need be, I was ready to step up and say “WHOA” if necessary.   Thankfully, that has not happened.

Step Eight
Do Your Best To Recognize Your Community
It has been hard to say “Good job” to everyone.  People are making badges, ribbons, writing blog posts, sharing links and pictures.   So try to acknowledge them as you can.    If #ISTE14 was going a bit longer, I would have recruited a “hospitality team” to really make each member feel a part.  We are posting blog links written by members on our twitter feed but I wish we had a better way of showing off badges, selfie pictures, and more!

Step Nine
Don’t Be the Expert
I cannot begin to list all the new opportunities that have come from this #NOTATISTE14 group — people are throwing ideas all over the place and some I pick up — some I don’t.   Some others pick up — some others discard.   There are some many opportunities to learn that even if you only participated for 1 hour – you will learn something.
Let others shine in what they know how to do!  and take the time to learn something new!!

Step Ten
Be appreciative!
Say thank you often!
Smile much and clap for joy at something that surprises you, captivates you, inspired you, etc
People flourish when they are recognized for their contributions!

Step Eleven:  
Don’t be shy in asking for door prizes!
Since we had a challenge, I started asking around to companies I had established relationships with — Tech4Learning, iPeveo — to donate — which they did….and then with help from many people in our community — many more door prizes came in.
So far our list includes:
Spelling City
TechSmith EDU
So, don’t be afraid to ask — many many companies wish to help educators out!!!

Hope this helps!







  1. Jeanne Anderson says:

    Jennifer, thanks for setting this up in the first place and then thanks for spelling out how you did it and what you’d do differently next time. I can’t believe you’ve taken the time to reflect already! Others have mentioned this, but I have to repeat that you are so good at making people feel welcome and explaining how to do things. I’ve been challenged to try some new things and feel supported in my efforts. I know that at times I can be hesitant to try things in “public” for fear of looking stupid. You make me feel that I’m not “stupid,” but that I just don’t know how to do a certain thing, and provide directions. The whole group has been great about putting forth effort and recognizing that it won’t work perfectly every time. So what, right? We’re all learning!

  2. Lindsay Foster says:

    First, you have done an incredible job taking on what APPEARED to be small but has become HUMONGOUS! You are #amazing!

    Second, I agree with all of your steps above. In the words of my husband, everything is about process improvement and when it is the first time, you learn what to do, what to continue, what to improve and what to discontinue. Again, you took on a challenge and I think you’ve done an incredible job with it… as have all of the really inspiring and creative people around you like Vicky, Sue, Craig, Jeffrey, etc. Not to mention those who have shared their thoughts, their tweets, their selfies, their photobombs, etc. I cannot imagine what ISTE is ACTUALLY like if it’s THIS busy and I’m #NotAtISTE14. 🙂

    Again, THANK YOU to the millionth power! And thanks for allowing me to help. I’m happy to be of service and I am truly #honored and #inspired to be a part.

  3. Ann Oro says:

    You have been a gracious host. I can imagine that this has taken a lot of time on your part in the short few days. Luckily you have had some people jump in to help you out. Thank you for the connections and the fun!

  4. Lisa Mims says:

    THANK YOU Jen! You are fab-u-lous! Adding this link to my blog post!

  5. Craig Yen says:

    Thanks so much for bringing this together. I’ve had a blast while being #notatiste14 and have learned so much.

  6. jamie camp says:

    Wow Jen! What a weekend this was, and what a learning experience! You are such a welcoming person that the fact that this community grew to 15x the size you expected is really not surprising! You are an inspiring lady, and we all appreciate your hard work so much! We have all made some connections that will grow and enrich our practice. Thank you, friend!

  7. Sue Waters says:

    Hi Jen

    Thanks for setting up #notatiste14 community and for everything you’ve done. It has been an amazing experience.

    Thanks for also sharing the process of setting up this community. You’ve included lots of great tips that will help others.

    Sue ( @suewaters )

  8. Sundi Pierce says:

    You did a great job, Jen. Thanks for doing all this work.

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