Back from #iste2016. Once again, I return inspired, motivated, energized — and exhausted!
From my perspective as a museum educator, there were some clear themes we saw this year:
- Google, and Google Classroom in particular. Classroom had an strong presence with at least 10 sessions. Many of the sessions were full. I was relieved to find out that I’ve learned the tool well, as the ones I did get into were mostly things I already knew. I’m watching Classroom to keep growing and improving, especially after Google sees all the teacher use. Google Cast has huge potential, even though it really doesn’t impact me.
- 3D printing/scanning, AR and VR were huge. I mean really huge. One presenter said there were 46 sessions about the AR/VR/3D modeling. It feels like it’s becoming mainstream. Teachers are using it frequently in the classroom and companies are out with all sorts of things. My favorite sessions were about Paleoteach.org and one from @stemnation about a fantastic project getting kids to print 3D versions of printing “press” typefaces. There were more 3D printers in the exhibit hall than you could count.
- Free. Again, free is a common thread at ISTE. I heard complaints about software that used to be free now charging. I heard questions at my session asking about if a resource is free. If not, teachers won’t even look at it. It is essential that publishers and content providers keep this in mind.
- Inclusion and UDL: I was happy to see quite a presence of accessibility and inclusion sessions. I attended a Playground about UDL and learned a few new tips/tricks. I sadly couldn’t make a couple of the sessions, but have downloaded the handouts. Hoping I can glean info from them.
The “disruptive” theme continues. ISTE attendees tend, as a group, to not like standardized tests and such. As a group, they lean towards empowering students and less about the top down. I’m not always sure what this has to do with technology, but I love it, and I love how the tools of technology are seen as a means to an end of empowerment and learning, rather than as the ultimate goal. I felt there were fewer “use this app” sessions, and more sessions about tools for learning.
This year was a networking year for me, which was so fun.
The Smithsonian’s Learning Lab officially launched at ISTE with a big splash. Having watched the Learning Lab from afar for a few years, it is really exciting to see it officially go live. I enjoyed talking about it at my poster session and was pleased to hear that many folks from my poster stopped at the Learning Lab’s table!
I also met a blogger icon, Glenn Wiebe of historytech. I was beyond giddy! We always read Glenn’s blog – he does fabulous work keeping an eye on the combination of social studies and technology. I fully admit we “borrow” (with credit of course) ideas from Glenn. It made my conference complete to connect Glenn and Darren Milligan (Smithsonian) about the Learning Lab. Glenn also published a far-too flattering post about my session. THANK YOU, Glenn! I look forward to working with Glenn in the future.
I was able to connect with the team at Georgia Public Broadcasting who publish the 8th grade Georgia history textbook and virtual field trips. GPB uses the same digital publishing software that we use, so it was extremely helpful to connect with them and share our successes and frustrations.
The now-annual Minnesota Tweetup was also a fantastic place to reconnect with old friends and make new connections. These are often folks I see on Twitter or at conferences, so it’s a great chance to actually talk.
Sessions with iconic bloggers always makes ISTE fun. I saw Chris Lehmann, Will Richardson and Pernille Ripp around the conference. Why all three were scheduled at 4 p.m on Tuesday is beyond me. Why, ISTE????
Talking to strangers also makes ISTE fun. For example, I met @im_alastair and @mpickens813 on the train to the airport. Lively conversation made the long ride much more fun!
I did another poster session, although this one was on my own! Once again, it was about digital primary sources, “Reading Primary Source Images like a Book.” It was a busy two hours of sharing about primary source analysis and resources.
On to 2017 in San Antonio!