Five days. Almost a dozen workshops. Almost a dozen more sessions. Untold conversations and connections. Daily visit(s) to Reading Terminal, leading to WAY too many things I shouldn't have eaten. And then, there's the Expo Hall.
I have to go back to work to rest.
As I decided what to write in my final post on ISTE 2015, I looked over my notes, paperwork, iPad, laptop, Palm Pilot (not really) and realized there was some important stuff I didn't mention during my first four days.
I have seen posts elsewhere complaining about the commercialism, the lack of focus in workshops, the cliquishness of some of the groups, and others.
I have also read those who make ISTE out to be Heaven/Nirvana/After life/Whatever your belief is.
ISTE is none of these. And all of these. Though this non-profit group has evolved over the years, one thing has never changed: it is a place to connect.
Has ISTE become too commercial? Not in the Expo Hall, where it is supposed to be commercial. In fact, one of the main reasons I come to ISTE is to see what is new, improved, old.
However, the commercial aspect should and MUST be contained better in the sessions and workshops (unless they are specifically listed as a sponsor). Giving away product in a session/workshop is fine, but the speeches and sales talks belong on the Expo Hall floor, NOT in the workshops and sessions.
Is there lack of focus in workshops/sessions? Yep. Some DO lack focus. Maybe it's from staying out a LITTLE too late. Maybe they are not prepared well enough. Maybe they are TOO prepared.
I think it's because presenters are trying too hard to hit too broad a target. Then, when the presenter finds out where the mean of the group is, the presentation gains focus. It is a teaching technique that most of us have used in the classroom.
Solution? Maybe ISTE can incorporate a Likert-type scale in workshop descriptions so participants know where they fit and what is best for them. Then presenters must give a focus point for workshops that is not a moving target.
Is there cliquishness among groups? You bet. Some of us have been on the leading edge of 1:1 experience. Yet, if you wanted to help in the iPad Playground on Wednesday, you couldn't, UNLESS you were an Apple Distinguished Educator.
Solution? The success of the EdCamp model has been proven time and again. Incorporate that into an EdCamp Playground during the entire ISTE conference. Truth be told, if we are trying to instruct our students in how to collaborate and teach each other in our schools, ISTE should be allowing the EdCamp model to not just be a part of the convention, but a VITAL part.
I don't pretend to know the solutions to every problem that someone would throw up in the face of ISTE. I just know this:
When I stood in lines for workshops/coffee/sessions/badges/3D printers/LMS/Wifi solutions/etc., I listened.
When I had conversations, I wrote down ideas.
These aren't just my ideas. They are the ideas of the members of ISTE who were willing to talk because someone was listening.
And, I guess that's also what ISTE is all about, too.
Now, a personal observation: No offense meant, but please 86 the preliminaries to the keynote. Trying to make CEOs, teachers, Tech people act like the Tonight Show is not successful. They are not Jimmy Fallon/David Letterman/Stephen Colbert (no matter how hard they try). They are CEOs, teachers, and Tech people. Let them act like it in the appropriate venue and let us get on with the keynote.
Didn't get a lot of sleep last night. As I've said, ISTE is all about connections. Tuesday night, the folks at Showbie were connecting with their loyal customers at an Irish Pub in Mid Town Philly. Since we have been one of those aforementioned customers, we were shown love by our friends from north of the border. I cannot thank them enough!
So, the eye-opening Learning.com Round Table discussion early this AM helped get the blood flowing. Some interesting discussion of budgets, preparing students, helping teachers, and where we stand with keyboarding skills.
That last one, those on the podium agreed they wish they would get more keyboarding into the curriculum. It's just not feasible for some.
LEAP: Getting to the Heart of Transformative Change
A quartet of Technology Integration specialists from the Carolinas lead this one. With their infrastructure taken care of, it was time to lead their district through some transformative change. For them, LEAP (Leadership, Expectations, Anytime Access, Personalized) is the key. Their materials, that include links to webpages and videos, can be found here: https://goo.gl/s9UDQe
A few products were being introduced in their session: A book being sold at the ISTE book store, called "Reimagining Learning Spaces for Student Success" (which I won a copy of!) and the Swivl, which is a motorized tripod to which you attach an iDevice. It swivels to follow the speaker around the room during a iDevice recording of the talk.
Minecraft in Education
For the second time at ISTE, I took the time for Minecraft. This workshop, sponsored by Microsoft, talked about how to use it in the classroom, especially in STEM. There was also a short section called "Demystifying Mods" where the presenter showed us a free site dedicated to helping kids create a mod for Minecraft and use it in a world. www.learntomod.com
I finished the evening off with a simple but delicious dinner of Philly cheesesteak sandwiches at the beautiful String Theory Charter School on Vine with quite a few of my fellow EdCamp coordinators. I guess my age was showing, because I didn't have the energy for the EdTech Karaoke later (and you DON'T want to see ME attempt something like that). If you haven't held an EdCamp in your area, go here to find out more: http://edcamp.org/
ISTE is more about connections than workshops. I found that out on Day 3, when I spent the morning exchanging information with people whom I helped and who helped me.
I started the day by meeting up with a new Aussie friend. Lauren has an amazing ability to visualize and organize (something I need some help with). She took so much time letting me bend her ear, giving ideas on how to be a better Technology Coordinator. Then, we both rushed from the Expo Hall to our own workshops.
Create & Innovate with iTunes U
In the first session of the day, I was honored to be a part of an iTunes U session. Though I had created an iTunes U course before, I learned so much about how to include materials and my biggest worry: copyright issues. Their advice: put links to websites, not materials from those sites. Then, I am giving them credit for the materials my students could be using. In addition, they were WELL prepared in showing the latest additions to iTunes U 3.0: grading and assignment submissions, along with others. Awesome job, Rebecca and Jenny! I also had a chance to help an iTunes U newbie sitting next to me, as we worked our way through the WiFi fog of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Creating Code Monkeys
The TechChicks deserve a bigger audience than what was there. Helen and Anna were not just funny, they involved us as an audience in learning more about how to get our little ones on the coding train. Their materials were easy to follow and WAY to numerous to mention. If you let me know, I'll share their Wiki page.
And, in case you're wondering, the panorama in this post is of the Reading Terminal here in Philadelphia. It's motto should be, "If you can't find something here to eat, you ain't looking."
After four-hours sleep, I was hoping I would become recharged at ISTE. I was not disappointed.
Our first day workshop on Saturday concentrated on using Google Tools. We were greeted by Jaime Casap, a Google Guru whose main purpose is to show you the importance of "taking advantage of the world at our fingertips."
His focus on "Generation Z," as this group of students is called, pushed to the point of them being "global, social, visual, and technological."
Casap alludes to "information having no value, because it's so easy to find." Instead its the use of the information. Giving examples of where Google started all those years ago (I can hardly believe it was only twenty years ago Larry Page and Sergey Brin met), Casap said "Transformation never stops."
Then he asked the most important question of the day:
"How do we create environments that are iterative and innovative?"
The answer, for me at this point: transformation.
The rest of the day-long session concentrated on Google's MyMaps, (which is not yet available in the Google Apps for Education in My Drive, but is available in your personal Gmail account), Google Chrome Extensions, Sites, and Google Forms, and how to use YouTube as one of three strands on Google Tools. Here is the Google Site they gave us:
I can't wait for this one to be available in GAFE for my students. It takes Google Maps and gives it a shot of steroids. Do a lot of what you do in Google Maps, then save it to your Google Drive and use it for a class project. Mine was on Revolutionary War Battles.
Google Chrome Extensions, Sites, & Google Forms
Great job on how to create a Google Site. I was already there, but it was nice to get a refresher. Google Forms is already part of my repertoire, but some great info on some of the data you can collect. Though Chrome Extensions were not part of the original syllabus, I LOVED some of the Extensions introduced.
Super informational on how good the YouTube Editor really is. The audio available is incredible, and it's hidden WAY under the rug. Look for "Creator's Playbook" at the bottom of a signed-in page. And "Creator's Studio" when you click on your picture in the upper right hand corner. This strand got into production value from a television stand point. He lost me there.
23 Tools For Students To Publish What They Learn by Nadya Khoja, venngage.com It’s no surprise that’s no surprise that there are so many tools available for students to publish their ideas to in the year...
But, for me, it was a Minecraft kinda day. And it rocked!
We learned how to set-up and run a MinecraftEDU server. Yeah, I know. It sounds real "techy," but it's not. And though our teacher started slow, we gained speed and learned SO MUCH through the process.
Every student should have a collection of personal bests -- a cloud-based story of their development and artifacts of accomplishment that's easily shareable in full or in part and organized for presentation.
Doug Joubert's insight:
Great advice on student portfolios and various products to use.
D-Day is such a huge event in world history that we often only see fragments of it at any given time. This awesome graphic give us an overall idea of just how much manpower and hardware were involved in the operation.
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