“Just go with the flow.”
That was the advice that one of the digital learning facilitators gave me when she learned that I would be attending the ISTE conference for the first time. And, wow, she was right. No one could have prepared me for ISTE. Over 14,000 educators descended onto the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA, to learn from one another, and enhance the learning of students. I was only able to attend ISTE on Saturday and Sunday (because of some other awesome opportunities I plan blog about later), but my quick dip in the ISTE stream yielded some new insights and resources. Inspired by Angela Watson’s (@Angela_Watson) 10 Big Take-aways post, I thought I would share my five ISTE “A-Ha’s”.
1. Augmented Reality (AR) is appearing in more classrooms.
My first experience with AR was the fun ColAR App I blogged about in March. AR was a recurring theme at ISTE. I finally downloaded Aurasma after having an enthusiastic ISTE AR Network educator demonstrate how the app allows the user to connect a 3D overlay of an picture or video onto a “trigger image.” The app hold much promise for student’s creating their own “auras” as well as activities created by the teacher. In addition, I learned about the Smithsonian’s X 3D website, which allows you to examine 3D representations of artifacts from your device. You can even download the images and print them on a 3D printer. It’s pretty amazing.
2. ISTE educators are even more passionate about relationships than technology.
ISTE really is a community. I identify myself as an “ed tech dabbler,” so an event like ISTE interests me, but it also intimidates me. I was amazed at how helpful and friendly most people were. It seemed that even the most tech-savvy educators cared less about what a person knew than just being excited that he or she was on the journey. From the conversations I had,I realized that many people looked forward to ISTE for networking with other educators even more than learning about technology integration. Caring and concern for students were also at the heart of conversations. I was happy to finally meet Lora Cain (@CainLora) who works with Follett Community, which I joined recently. I was introduced to Lora by my good friend and colleague John Parker (@TheSlamGuy). A few weeks ago Lora asked me to do an interview for the Follett Community site, and then when she learned I would be at ISTE, we met each other in person. Lora was so nice to have me do a video interview for their site at ISTE, too. It was a lot of fun! She is awesome, and we became fast friends.
3. Even the most experienced and tech-savvy teachers still have technology problems.
I felt so bad for the presenter of one of the sessions. Her presentation station had technical problems just before the start time of her presentation. When it began working, the projector would not focus correctly, and there was a big green vertical bar on the screen throughout her entire presentation. And, she just rolled with it. I did too. I acquired some awesome resources from her presentation. More than one person mentioned the glitches that occur when we walk toward the future in regards to technology integration. There were stories of malfunctions, unexpected filters, resistant administrators and colleagues, and terrible wi-fi. But the overarching message was: we keep reaching toward classrooms that reflect our modern world and prepare kids for their futures.
4. Technology enhances literacy skills and learning; it doesn’t replace them.
I actually already knew this, but it makes me happy to be reminded. Oftentimes, I have to remind my colleagues that, as a literacy coach, I actively want to integrate technology into the classroom too. Technology supports a broad range of literacies. Whether it was children’s books created in traditional PowerPoint software, infographics to represent student research findings, strategies to “read” film, or data literacy sets from tuvalabs.com, literacy and technology are inextricably interwoven in 21st century texts.
5. Being a turtle is OK.
During the Genius Hour panel, Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) said one of my favorite things at ISTE: “Innovate like a turtle.” She went on to say that when you attend an event like ISTE, you hear about so many ideas that you can become paralyzed. Her advice was to take one or two ideas and begin moving on them. Later on, you can pick up one or two more ideas. So, in honor of innovating like a turtle, I am going to spend time learning more about how to integrate Augmented Reality into the classroom, and leave some of my other ideas and resources in my bookmarks and notes until I’me moved “a few more inches.”