Monday, July 19, 2010

Reflections on ISTE 2012: Finally -- Time to Reflect!

ISTE 2010 was an amazing experience for me on many levels, but between family vacation immediately following the conference, home projects, and getting ready to teach intersession, I finally found a few hours to reflect and put some words down on paper - *err* backlit LCD.
Getting there and meeting so many great people -- in personThe night before I left for Denver, I tweeted that I was packing. A moment later,@ktenkely tweeted me back and asked me if I needed a ride from the airport to our tweet-up, organized by @geraldaungst, then to my hotel. Not looking forward to the hassles of taxis or public transit, I immediately answered yes. She also picked up@thenerdyteacher and @amandacdykes and eventually, we were all sitting together in Kelly's SUV and gabbing like old friends. During one of the lulls in the conversation, I asked how everyone knew eachother. The answer surprised me, and continues to fascinate me, even now. We had all met someone in the vehicle, either on Twitter, or from following one another's blogs. How strangely futuristic, I thought. I guess the more I think about it, it doesn't seem so strange after all because we all share some pretty unifying commonalities: we're all teachers, we see the advantages of using technology in the classroom, and we all participate in social media. I guess we were bound to run into each other sooner or later.
Stories like mine were not uncommon for the nearly 20,000 people who converged upon the Denver area for the annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference at the end of June, 2010.
Working the show: I was an attendee like most of my friends and colleagues, but I took on a special assignment prior to the conference that would have me working my tail off all week. After I signed up to attend the conference, I noticed that one of the Tier Two sponsors of the conference was CDW, the company behind Ed Tech Magazine. Having written four articles for their website within the last 18 months on various topics related to Ed Tech, I pitched an idea to my editor, Ryan Peterson, offering to present "live coverage" of the event in the form of video interviews of key people and blogging about intriguing products from the exhibit floor. Particularly exciting to me was the degree of freedom I was given to interview whomever I wanted, and review almost any product that caught my attention.
Honestly, I didn't know exactly what would come out of the whole project, but I knew I'd be a content-producing machine! And that kind of thing excites me like no one's business. I'm the most focused when I'm doing. Come to think of it, my students are the same way. Note to self: more hands-on!!!
What resulted was a collection of some amazing insights from a few of the greatest minds in Ed Tech. My blog posts offered a little something for everyone, too, ranging from new hardware designs to content-creation software; unique accessories, and even tips to consider before dropping serious coin on your school's next big-ticket, high-tech purchase.
Here are links to the videos I produced, along with a brief description of each one. You'll also find links to those special individuals who so graciously appeared on camera if you want to follow their tweets and insights. Thank you, again, to each of you!
Personal Learning Networks — The “Tweet-cher” Culture: Teachers and K-12 trainers find Twitter offers a quick and easy way to share information and build a PLN. Featuring:Lisa GreathouseKyle PaceChris ChampionNick ProvenzanoAmanda Dykes, andMichelle Baldwin.
Digital Citizenship - What’s the role of schools in fostering responsible and respectful members of the global online community? FeaturingPaul RomeroMatthew G. Castanera-Bartoszek, and Ivan Duran.
21st Century Classroom Part 1 - In this first of a two-part series on the 21st century classroom, teachers and ed tech leaders share their insights on teaching and learning in a digital age. FeaturingDavid WarlickCory PloughKelly Tenkely, and Amy Kirchner.
21st Century Classroom Part 2 - In this second installment of a two-part series, educators and technologists discuss the challenge of using IT to make the classroom relevant and engage students in a learning lifestyle. FeaturingDavid WarlickCory Plough, and Kelly Tenkely.
One-to-One Computing - What does it take to make one-to-one initiatives work for schools and their students? FeaturingPaul RomeroMatthew G. Castanera-Bartoszek, and Ivan Duran.
Interactive Whiteboards in the Classroom - K-12 IT leaders discuss the merits and limitations of interactive whiteboards in the 21st century classroom. FeaturingPaul RomeroMatthew G. Castanera-Bartoszek, and Ivan Duran.
Peter H. Reynolds - Author/illustrator/education advocate Peter H. Reynolds reveals how one teacher’s encouragement fueled his artistic passions and professional accomplishments.
A few lessons learned: Before attending ISTE 2010, I thought the conference would mainly be a big parade of techy stuff -- with people touting all the high tech tools that schools "need" in order to provide "real" instruction and a "better" experience for students. It wasn't until I was shooting one of my videos on the 21st century classroom that I started to "get it." David Warlick said somthing that has lingered in my head for the last few weeks: he thinks that in the 21st century classroom, you won't really even seethe technology because it will be ubiquitous. The tools themselves will not be the focus -- it will be about the people and how many barriers we can break down. Kids are carrying the internet in their pockets already. We all need to work together in a partnership: business, parents, teachers, students -- all working together.
Monday night, I was invited to a company dinner with the CDW team and some of their clients at a local restaurant. Especially fun for me was getting to meet my editor in person. You e-mail someone for over a year and have an "online" friendship of sorts, but there's nothing like sitting across the table from someone and talking. We talked for over two hours about education, technology, blogging, learning, and the challenges both teachers and vendors face.
One example of how technology was ubiquitous for me this week was when an exhibitor placed a video conferencing call to a museum docent in Texas. Her face and voice came in clear, and within seconds, the technology that made it possible to carry out this face-to-face conversation evaporated into thin air and it was only the conversation that mattered. Content was key, not the fiber, cable, satellites, or whatever it was that permitted thisexchange of ideas. Education is really about the push and pull of ideas between people. The cows in the exhibit behind her were fun to look at, too.
If you don't have enough content clogging up your Google reader, or maybe haven't hit 1,000 posts and got 'em piled up like @kylepace or @web20classroom, (haha) here's a link to the nine blog posts I wrote during and immediately following the conference for Ed Tech Magazine K-12. On their website, Ed Tech Mag calls my blog "The Buzz."