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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).

Greetings from our CEO

Sarah Hanawald PhotoGreetings and welcome to the One to One Institute's website! I'm delighted to welcome you to our site and I am sure that you'll find resources here that will help you regardless of where you are in the One to One journey. Over the last thirteen years, One to One Institute has emerged as a voice, beacon, and expert for school leaders who seek to provide equity and opportunity for all learners. 

Since I joined OTO, I've had the opportunity to speak with many members of our community, whether members, participants in one of the phases of the Project RED research, or colleagues in nonprofits and technology partners. I'm overwhelmed by the warm welcome I've received.

One thing I've heard loud and clear is "what's next?" The challenge to this question is that we must keep an eye focused on the future without forgetting our present purpose, access to digital resources via personal device for every learner. 

The need for schools to go one to one (or 1:1) has never been more urgent. Organizations such as the Education Superhighway have led the charge to surmounted barriers to ensure that every  public school classroom is connected to the Internet with broadband. Others, such as Digital Promise, have made great progress in raising awareness that the future of learning will look vastly different than the schoolrooms of our past. Leslie Boney, Director of the Institute for Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University, spoke recently at an event focused on the future of work. He said "life long learning is the new normal" when explaining that K-12 education cannot provide a skill set that will suffice for a lifetime. We are preparing students for an era in which ubiquitious access to digital resources will be necessary to participate fully in society. 

Back in 1999, when I led my first 1:1 initiative in Greensboro, I told our board "this is the last chance we'll have to say that we're preparing students for the 21st Century. After this year, they'll be living in it, prepared or not."

Now that we're deep in the 21st Century and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it's time to take stock. How are our schools preparing learners for this era of continuous learning and relearning? We know that education today is the least digital it will ever be. If we're following the research, we also know that the outcomes of digitial initatives on student achievement are mixed. How will we ensure that each student has access to the best of the promise of digital learning?

One way to ensure positive outcomes is to understand from the beginning that going 1:1 is a community matter. The high-quality programs studied in the years of Project RED research did not just hand out devices at the door. Instead, teachers, parents, administrators, students and community members carefully and thoughtfully built visions for their programs that were specific to the needs of their communities. By implementing 1:1 with fidelity to their visions, thousands of students graduated prepared for the challenges of life and careers in rapidly changing times. 

Enjoy your visit to our site! Reach out if we can answer questions or provide additional information or guidance. 


Sarah Hanawald


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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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