#ISTE2016: The Session Selection Process (A First-Hand Account)

IMG_2923Now that the acceptances have been sent out for #ISTE2016, I wanted to share a little bit about what it is like to be a Co-chair for Poster Sessions in the selection process. I wanted to do this for two reasons:

  1. The session selection process is amazing and it is a story well worth telling.
  2. The process has mostly (and unnecessarily) remained secretive.

A few acknowledgements up front: I know that being a part of the ISTE session selection work is an honor and privilege. It makes me so happy to know just how much integrity and honesty there is within the people who have done this year in and year out. I will do my best to share the truth as I have seen it, but there are other folks who may wish to make corrections or who would like to tell the rest of the story. I encourage them to do that and to provide a well rounded account for how the few hundred proposals are chosen from among a few thousand. 

The Process:

  1. Co-Chairs (Poster, Lecture, BYOD, etc.) and the ISTE Conference team get together at the coming year's conference center to discuss trends from the previous year's conference and learn about how they will access and interact with the proposals within the database once they are submitted.
  2. Co-Chairs recruit Review Captains to lead teams of 3-5 reviewers. Each team reviews up to 40 presentations each,  split up into different topics so that presentations can be considered in the context of other presentations on the same topic.
  3. Review Captains recruit their teams and utilize the database system to "grade" each session and make a consensus recommendation.
  4. Once each proposal has a consensus recommendation, they are all printed out onto index cards for review by the co-chairs.
  5. All Co-Chairs visit the ISTE offices in Eugene, OR in order to do final review and placement "on the wall" according to time slot and room location for the conference.
  6. All of the sessions are then entered into the database and any conflicts for presenters/rooms are found. There are final adjustments made to the schedule for overall trends and needs of the conference.
  7. Acceptances/Rejections are sent out to all who submitted and people flock to Twitter to talk about it.

Of special interest might be step 5 because it is where the final decisions are made. Because of this, I decided to make a quick video to document the card process. Please note, there were changes made after the video was created, so nothing on the wall was for certain. It was merely our attempt (as co-chairs) to create the best draft of what the poster sessions would look like. We then left it in the capable hands of the Conference team to finalize the decisions in step 6.

In addition to the video above, if you were ever curious to know what getting off the elevator at the ISTE offices and heading into the big room to start making final session selection decisions looks like, here is a 360 degree video:

Additional images of the process can be found within this photo album, but I will embed them in a gallery as well for ease of use on this site:

[supsystic-gallery id=1 position=center]gallery

A special thanks to everyone who reviewed poster sessions (or any sessions) this year. It was an amazing process, and I am so glad that I was able to take part. Please leave any questions you might have in the comments, as I would love to continue to think through this with others.

Congrats to all of the #ISTE2016 presenters. I can't wait to meet and get to know many of you in Denver next June!

Leave a Reply