An inside look at ISTE10 from the blogosphere
ISTE 2010 Highlights
By Frank Catalano
ISTE 2010 drew 12,792 attendees and 456 exhibiting companies
to the Colorado Convention Center.
Overall, there were signs that consumer and education
technology are merging at an accelerated rate, and teachers
are at the center of the trend. It also seemed as that anyone
who could program a database was promoting a student
information system or a learning-management system.
And interactive whiteboards … well, they ruled supreme.
Interactive whiteboards were far and away the single most
dominant category in terms of booth space and presence. The
category inexplicably keeps growing year after year and even
drew new entrants at ISTE, such as eInstruction, which showed
its Interwrite DualBoard. A stunning 64 ISTE exhibitors identified
themselves as being in the interactive-whiteboard product
category, and—even allowing for those who check every category—
that’s still roughly 14 percent of all exhibits, a presence
made more prominent by the fact that the interactive-whiteboard
companies tended to have huge booths.
One reason for the prevalence of interactive whiteboards
is that they aren’t all about just the whiteboard anymore. All
the interactive-whiteboard exhibitors appeared to have student
response devices—from traditional “clickers” (with or
without displays) to full tablets—and everything was tied to
the interactive whiteboard. SMART Technologies and other
companies were also showing how iPhones and iPads could
be used as student response devices with their systems
instead of a dedicated proprietary tablet.
Interactive whiteboards are adding 3-D features. SMART,
Promethean, and others showed interactive whiteboards with projector-embedded 3-D technology
(and yes, with required 3-D
glasses). A rep with Texas Instruments,
which provides underlying 3-D DLP
technology, said that more than 12
manufacturers and 100 products were
using TI tech inside.
There is interactive-whiteboard
technology that doesn’t require an
interactive whiteboard. Long-timer
Mimio, which started in the corporate
market a decade ago, showed
MimioTeach (http://mimio.dymo.com), a small bar that magnetically
attaches to any whiteboard to wirelessly
capture whiteboard activity to a
computer and projector. Its relatively
low, $799 price tag gave it some buzz
factor on the floor, presumably among
Another approach seen on the show
floor was to put all the technology
into the projector and none on the
whiteboard to make it interactive.
Epson America was one exhibitor taking
this tack, with its IU-01. The technology,
which attaches to a personal
computer via USB, simply senses and
tracks activity from the projector itself
and communicates that activity to the
computer. It has the potential to completely
displace dedicated interactive
Dedicated social networks for students
(and educators) were a mini
trend at ISTE; at least three companies
showed new products or new features.
These were in addition to Pearson’s
announcement just before the start of
ISTE that it would underwrite educator
communities on the general-purpose
social network Ning. Perhaps not unexpectedly,
the education-specific social
networks have a Facebook-like look
launched in September 2008 as a
social learning network and has a free
edition for teachers and students. New
at ISTE was an iPod application, and
an Android app will be added this fall.
Edmodo features education applications
and a library of educational content
contributed by teachers that they
can share with each other; content
partners will be announced by this fall.
Edmodo says that more than 20 percent
of its users visit every day.
founded in May 2009, also has free
editions for teachers and students.
It highlighted its difference at ISTE:
a Web-based learning management
system built under, and into, the social
TH(i)NQ Ed (www.thinqed.com) was the newest entrant, with
its journ(i)e student-centered learning
social network. TH(i)NQ Ed used
ISTE not just to launch journ(i)e but
also to announce the change of the
company’s name to TH(i)NQ Ed from
SchoolCenter. Journ(i)e has iPhone
and Android apps, as well as a full
set of social-network features including
threaded messaging, blogs, feeds,
wikis, and workspaces for projects and
groups. It is also likely to give spellcheckers
Not on the show floor were
teacher-focused social networks in
which educators alone mingle, such
as edWeb.net, TeachAde.com, and
WeAreTeachers.com, which apparently
ceded the spotlight during this ISTE
to social networks in which students as
well as teachers participate.
The cool, fast Web research tool
YoLink (http://yolink.com) announced
a new API (application programming
interface)—which is how its parent,
TigerLogic, hopes to make money on
the service—but the buzz was about
YoLink’s free browser plug-in for
enhancing and previewing search results
(without having to click through links).
showed laser hardware that allows anyone
to “play” music by breaking one
of four red laser beams with his or her
hands in the U-shaped device. Software
indicates which note was played. Cost?
$199 for hardware and software combined.
Think Guitar Hero with education
chops (those in the industry long
enough can think Broderbund’s Jam
Session with hardware).
Vocabulary-builder site Learn That
Word (http://learnthatword.org) is
worth noting primarily because of its
unusual business model. It charges
schools not for all the vocabulary words
from the site they use but only for the
words it turns out that students don’t
know and have to learn. More detail on
the model is on the (beta) Web site.
Cengage Learning had the dubious
distinction of having what seemed to be
the only booth with a large display of
actual books. Mostly about technology.
It seemed so very retro.
Frank Catalano is the principal of
Intrinsic Strategy (http://intrinsicstrategy.com/about-intrinsic-strategy), a
strategic-marketing and business-consulting
firm for education- and consumer-
What did you learn
By Lisa Thumann
I like a good edtech conference as much as the next geeky
educator. But at the end, I want to look back at what I can
share with the educators I work with.
Here are some resources I’d like to share:
YOLINK blew me away. All their lessons and slide decks
are shared on the site we created for the conference.
CRITICAL-THINKING AND INTERNET-LITERACIES WIKI
(http://critical-thinking.iste.wikispaces.net/) The concepts
presented here are based on Howard Rheingold’s teaching:
Released in beta just before the conference, SweetSearch4Me
is recommended for students in K-8 grade. Similar to
SweetSearch, this search engine searches only Web sites that
its staff evaluated and approved. The final site is expected to
be released in September.
And here are some highlights, as they were the highlight
of the conference for me based on a conversation at
¦ Anyone can use technology; we don’t all have to be
¦ Everyone has expertise; we can all learn something from
¦ A good teacher doesn’t have to know the indicators; he
or she just has to know the content and understand how
to get a student to learn it.
¦ Communication is key.
¦ Be compelling.
¦ Be aware of the culture.
¦ Get a clear conversation going.
¦ It’s always about the people, whether it’s students or adults.
I didn’t walk away from ISTE with a miracle cure for any
of those problems, but I did walk away with a renewed
sense of commitment to children and helping them learn.
Leadership Bootcamp vs. EduBloggerCon
By Darren Draper
Having attended the first ever ISTE/TIE Leadership
Bootcamp, I was impressed with its lineup (while torn by
the unfortunate scheduling conflict with EduBloggerCon).
In truth, hopping during the day from LBC to EBC to LBC
to EBC was fascinating because the events were structured
very differently, both had good people contributing
to the atmosphere, and each was unique in its strengths.
The Leadership Bootcamp taught me a number of
things. First, that I’m still comfortable with the relatively
liberal filtering policies we put in place in our district. We
put in adequate effort in maintaining CIPA requirements
while also giving teachers and students the freedom
to access social sites that might help their curriculums.
Second, we’ve become an incredibly difficult society to
teach—at least when “teaching” means “lecture”—and as
students, well, we’re networked. Third, an increase in cost
doesn’t always translate into an increase in learning. While
the learning that took place at LBC was certainly topnotch
(and traditional in its approach, to be sure), such an
environment had no corner on the market of effectiveness.
Fashioned on the “un-conference” model,
EduBloggerCon, on the other hand, was free to all participants
and informal in its approach. Session conversation
topics and facilitators were selected at the beginning
of the event, and no participants were paid for their
services. Learning was the focus, and provided by the
community for the community, all in the form of conversation,
untainted by the sight of sages on stages. In jumping
back and forth between LBC and EBC, I learned that
conversation is an incredibly powerful method of learning
and can be customized rapidly but that it is also prone to
easy derailment. More than once, conversations began
with a clear objective but quickly shifted to unintended
topics. All in all, I would recommend both events.