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ISTE2014 is over, long live ISTE

Bloggers' Cafe at NECC2008 (Photo credit: teachandlearn)

Bloggers’ Cafe at NECC2008
(Photo credit: teachandlearn)

What can you learn when over 14,000 education technologists descend on one convention?

From hundreds of conversations over three days, we observed the following megatrends:

  • For the first time in six years, education budgets are not contracting, and education buyers are actively looking for where they should spend their money for the greatest learning impact.
  • The tide of digital content is rising, while the tide for printed textbooks is moving out. State deals for platform companies like Copia are accelerating this trend.
  • Assessment is critical, especially assessment that is built into activities for students that provide students and teachers feedback about competencies and skill and knowledge gaps. A soon to be released report from the SIIA will show how assessment is growing while test prep is contracting.
  • The maker movement portends a move toward doing as learning, creating robots, digital storytelling, building electronics, 3D printing, game creation, and service learning projects

While in past years, tech administrators were focused on technology, growing numbers of tech administrators are realizing that their jobs are about technology enhancing learning. Creating relationships is the killer app for education.

They talked about wanting to produce a generation of learners, not learned, and that to do that with our students we all need to model the skills we want our students to acquire.

And technology administrators are acknowledging that their job is to build a learning culture. The most effective ones embrace this challenge, and lead change by sharing decisionmaking, building up others by giving them challenging tasks and holding them accountable, and making sure the right people are on the team; technology will not replace teachers, but those who use technology will replace those who don’t.

The SIIA hosted an informative breakfast where education buyers told software and content publisher that while there are thousands upon thousands of great apps, schools know that free and low cast apps have hidden costs, which make school administrators wary of widespread adoption. They take up space, they don’t share data with other enterprise systems, and they take up management time. What happens when a teacher bases a week’s curriculum on an app and that app stops working, disappears, or changes to a paid app? While free is popular with teachers, administrators don’t want to sell kids eyeballs just to get a free app.

As usual, the exhibit floor was HUGE, and seemed dominated by 2-3 story booths of companies with plenty of money. But also as usual, many of the real innovation were seen in the small booths that were tucked away. We were especially impressed with the startup Buncee, The Global Oneness Project, and Project Foundry.

And our favorite part was the conversations that took place at the poster sessions and bloggers café with people like Sherry Crofut, Lori Feldman, Ginger Lewman, Kevin Honeycutt, Christa Fairman, and Tom Whitby.

Thank you everyone for a fun and informative three days. I can’t wait for Podstock on July 16.