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ISTE 2019 Highlights

Our CEO, Sarah Hanawald, offered this look at ISTE 2019 from a one to one leader’s perspective. 

From Sarah:

ISTE itself is the mother of all technology conferences, with 20,000 attendees from the US and around the globe. There are truly thousands of learning opportunities, from hands-on workshops to inspirational keynotes to poster sessions that allow for thoughtful conversations with action-researchers. And then there’s the exhibit hall that almost requires a scooter for efficiency!  For a complete summary of what happened at ISTE, check in with a bona fide journalist. My focus is going to be on what I learned that applies specifically to those of us leading, planning, or re-visioning a one to one program in which every learner has a personal device.

Leadership: Leaders who use tech

Far too often, the line between technology that helps school leaders and the technology of the classroom has been like an electrified fence. And yet, leaders who have a vision for transformative technology are essential to the success of a one to one initiative (Project RED, 2012, 2017).  Teachers and students have an ever-increasing array of interesting and innovative tools while administrators are stuck with spreadsheets and dashboards. I ask, how is that fair? 

Luckily for me, I attended Chris O’Neal’s session on Modeling Technology Leadership. Chris “gets” that while administrators aren’t necessarily going to use the same tools as those in the classroom, there’s no excuse for not using the right tools to transform their work, just as teachers and coaches do in the classroom. A direct quote “If you believe teachers need to use technology to improve learning, you need to walk the walk.” Here are just a few of the suggestions Chris made, along with some others that came from attendees in the room.

  • Serve as the social media strategist for your school
  • Use a QR scavenger hunt for a week as professional development
  • Go paperless. Mean it.
  • Keep up with emerging trends and possibilities, even if you don’t master the tools yourself.

Innovative Uses of Trusted/Familiar Tools

During a recent #EdTechChat on Twitter, I responded to a question about which tech tools we prefer by saying I liked tools that “enable creation of knowledge, individual input and learner autonomy.” In other words, tools that are just that--tools. Teachers with high goals for student use of technology are the forces that turn flexible tools into educational powerhouses.

To that end, when I’m in the exhibit hall (which gets bigger every year!) I’m interested in seeing the uses, case studies, and best practices in the booths of products I already value. This year did not disappoint, with more exhibitors than ever inviting educators to join their booths and share how they use resources. How can their use of the tool support the Key Implementation Factors (KIFs) of a successful 1:1 deployment? One highlight for me was encountering an educator using OneNote and Flipgrid to build out PLC notebooks to support colleagues in implementing technology thoughtfully, an exemplar of how to build professional development into the lifeblood of school, one of the top seven KIFs for effective 1:1 programs (Project RED, 2012).

Student Creation (Not Just Consumption)

I also spent several happy hours looking at artifacts of student work in creation. The opportunities for students to tell their stories digitally continue to impress me. From simple and effective tools such as Book Creator to complex Unity VR coding, the array of opportunities for students to create, rather than consume, is impressive. 

Personal Interaction
A not-so-secret highlight of ISTE is the plethora of poster sessions. Poster presenters dedicate hours to the visual presentation of their expertise and their work is inspirational. Add in the chance to talk one-on-one with an action-researcher about his/her work in a specific area of educational technology, and it’s a can’t-miss part of the conference! Among others, I chatted with poster presenters who had insights to share on OER (an essential tool for any one to one initiative), project management (for sure!), and internal research (we need more). 

Can’t wait for ISTE 2020! (Hint there may be mouse ears).

One-to-One Institute is an international non-profit committed to igniting
21st century education through the implementation of one-to-one technology
in K-12 education environments.

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