This past week I was fortunate to visit beautiful San Diego, California for the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Conference.
WOW did it ever feel great to be surrounded by tens of thousands of people just as passionate about Education Technology as I am!
The President of ISTE, Holly Jobe commented on the opening day (and I'm paraphrasing) that often we can feel like a lone voice in our schools, districts & work environments - but we can all come together at ISTE. She was absolutely right.
At times it was a bit overwhelming - the sheer volume and number of sessions, workshops, exhibitors, and learning to be had. And really, where else would you see thousands of people lining up on a Sunday night for a keynote address? Technology teachers show up, people. Don't believe me - check this out -
The overarching theme was 'Expanding Horizons' - which I could definitely say came through in many of the big picture events, like keynotes. In general, there was a bit of preaching to the choir to move away from standardized tests, standardized curriculum, teaching the individual child and a need to have governments re-think their priorities when designing and funding for schools. Yea! We want all of these things...now it's the 'how'.
There was so much to see and do - but I thought I would share a few of my highlights.
Keynote Panel - Sir Ken Robinson and Marc Prensky
Seeing Marc Prensky was a Ed Tech Nerd dream come true of mine - he is so forward thinking when it comes to how to educate this generation of students. He coined the phrase 'Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives' but is not resting on that concept, and has written a new book - "From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom" and another is coming in August - "Brain Gain" again, focusing on Digital Wisdom. These are books that I look forward to devouring. Sir Ken (as everyone was calling him) re-vamped his book "Out of Our Minds" recently (his retelling of how & why was hysterical) and was all about finding creativity. The Keynote Panel itself wasn't the most successful format, in my opinion, and it also featured Mayim Bialik (from the Big Bang Theory & Blossom & is a neuroscientist) and offered some good insights about how the right teacher can help any child learn, especially Science & Technology. The other speaker from Qualcomm didn't offer much to the panel - listening to Marc and Sir Ken drove home the idea of finding your passion & how it can truly change your learning experience.
Keynote Address - Dr. Yong Zhao
OK, Dr. Zhao was new to me, but I thank goodness he's come into my world!! I have never laughed so hard at someone who was making absolute and complete sense!! The entire room was roaring with laughter as Dr. Zhao described how messed up traditional testing is & how it can be misleading. And generally, teaching to a traditional test can kill creativity and confidence in children. His new book is called "World Class Learners - Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students" and again, drove home the idea of teaching the child, embracing his/her talents & helping them to find their passion. I can't do justice to him talking about how China has no 'Baby Steve Job's' left because they were teaching to the test & killed their creativity!
Kathy Schrock - Literacy for the Digital Age
I've followed Kathy's work since I became an Ed Tech Nerd & have always thought she'd be excited & enthusiastic & talk fast (like me) and boy was I right! She went through 13 different Literacies for the Digital Age based on Churchill's research & provided websites, iPad apps etc...to help support students and teachers as they learn & work through these different digital literacies. Her vast knowledge was evident and I'm sure that every single person walked out of that room with an enlightened sense of varying tools for Digital Literacy. I can't do the whole thing justice, so here is her support page for the presentation:
I had a blast visiting all of the various exhibitors, etc...(strangely absent was Apple, when every other classroom technology company was present).
Google had a great set up and was providing a lot of sessions for use of Google in the classroom, Google Apps for Education etc...
I loved seeing SMART's booth - super slick set up & they also ran sessions throughout the conference, mostly taught by SMART Exemplary Educators (SEEs) and there was lots about collaboration & great integration of SMART products.
I especially enjoyed seeing SMART's new Interactive Panel for Education. It feels SO SMOOTH and intuitive...I want one in every classroom and in my house!! I also got a chance to play with the Notebook App, which will live up to expectations, based on what I had a change to play with!
Overall, it was a wonderful experience and I hope that I will be able to attend the conference in 2013 in San Antonio - http://isteconference.org/2013/
If I were to make one wish for the future, it would be that the 'International' part of ISTE would be a bit more prominent in sessions, as there was a lot of focus on American Education Initiatives. Fair enough, as the majority of attendees were American, but good teaching and learning with technology is an international goal - so I hope it is featured a bit more moving forward.
Happy Summer, all you hard working teachers - you deserve it!!
I did get outside occasionally....