Another ISTE; what did we learn?
This was a very exciting ISTE for me personally.
On Sunday June 28, we had our Games4Ed in person meeting to discuss Game Jams, PD around Game Based Learning, and Pilots of games in schools and districts. We were expecting just over 30 people, but more than 50 attended, teachers, administrators, game developers, policy makers, researchers, and software publishers. There was high energy and momentum building around each of these initiatives. Look for Announcements from Game4Ed.
Soledad O’Brien’s keynote Sunday night was one of the best ISTE opening keynote’s I’ve heard. She gave an inspiring message around equity and diversity. One of her notable quotes was, “I want to live in a country where education is a civil right, not a function of your parent’s zipcode.” And as inspiring as her presentation was, educator Rafranz Davis’s was just at another level. You can always count on Rafranz to be provocative, entertaining, and inspiring. In describing the need for diversity in administrators, teachers, mentors, and role models, Rafranz noted: “You cannot be what you cannot see.”
On Monday June 29, the highlight was being a judge for ISTE’s Ed Tech Startup Pitch Fest. This is an opportunity to hear young innovative companies describe how they are transforming education.
Tuesday started off with an SIIA and CoSN breakfast where educators and administrators described their good and bad experiences with vendors. As in the past, districts are looking for solutions that help them solve big problems, they don’t want products, they want partners who do their homework in advance, listen to their priorities, and help them plan implementation and support for whatever initiatives they are about to undertake.
Tuesday’s highlight was listening to students describe their tech experience in school at the PR with Panache suite. Some of the quotable statements:
- Why would you have a 60 year old teacher who doesn’t even know how to reset a router be the gatekeeper for us using technology?
- If you’re trying to teach me something I already learned two years ago, don’t complain when you see I’m bored and not paying attention.
- Don’t talk about how you have computers in every classroom, when they are so slow we can’t actually do any work on them.
- I don’t care that the vendors are tracking me, even without tracking I can go on the Internet and find out where you live and what you are interested in in 2 seconds.
- We’ve learned to be careful about what we put on the Internet. We know there are bad people out there, and that there are things we shouldn’t post. Now you need to trust us and let us get our work done.
- Technology will never replace teachers. We need teachers. Without teachers, growing up would be like Lord of the Flies.
The Admin Special Interest Group is one of my favorite events at ISTE, where school and district
administrators share their best practices. There were 15 different presentations, all meaningful. Scott McLeod’s trudacot protocol for facilitating conversations about deeper learning, student agency and technology integration was definitely a highlight. Another modeled student quests on the Breakout Games, although students weren’t actually locked in the room. Admittedly though, it was tempting.
Late Wednesday morning was an interview of Larry Cocco and me by Jeff Bradbury of TeacherCast, where we talked about game based learning, student engagement, Games4Ed, and EdChat Interactive. We'll let you know when it is posted.
Erik Martin of the US Department of Education led an interesting discussion on the use of games in class as one of the closing sessions. Games are the only way to experience events and places we cannot physically visit. The way we will scale game based learning is to provide hands-on practice to teachers, and then demonstrate how games make their lives easier. To show the impact of games and how games are inspiring learning, the Department now publishes their information on Game Based Learning at http://tech.ed.gov/games/.
And then it was over.
But don't stop the learning, see what's coming up on Edchat Interactive. Our next session is July 29 on Grading, Assessment, and Feedback, with Dave Nagel.