ISTE 2014 Teaching Matters
7/30/2014 By: Henry Thiele
It’s not really about the tech, but what teachers and students can do with it.
|Educators who meet virtually throughout the year get to meet face-to-face in Atlanta.
ISTE 2014 was quite different from
previous ISTE conferences. There wasn’t
a “hot, new thing” circulating that people
wanted to talk about or that vendors were
relying on to draw attendees. This year’s
conference inspired a different
conversation thread: teaching matters.
People were actively discussing how
teachers are designing active learning
environments and experiences that
engage students through technology.
These conversations often led to talk
about tools, including tablets and
iPads, Chromebooks, Web-based
resources, assessment tools, classroom
technologies, and other technology
resources. However, much of the
dialogue at ISTE 2014 was structured
around teaching and learning.
These conversations also
uncovered the reality that every school
is on a different path in creating
modern learning environments. Unfortunately,
challenges of time, funding, leadership, outside
regulations, and fractured expectations often
stand in the way of innovative educators.
Navigating these challenges seemed to be at
the heart of many side conversations in the
Blogger’s Cafe or panel discussions. There
was a decrease in the number of sessions that
showed how to operate a tool or application.
There was an increase in offerings that
focused on strategies for new ways of learning.
There were more stories about how to create
innovative learning experiences, especially
from the classroom teacher’s perspective.
There was also a change of focus in the
Exhibit Hall. Many vendors turned their
booths into makeshift classrooms and
invited educators to share their stories and
Perhaps this year’s conversations will
lead to next year’s presentations focusing
more on teaching, learning, coaching, and
changing the classroom experiences for our
students. I hope that educators and those
who are leaders within ISTE will continue to
realize that the “hot, new thing” in education
is not what makes the most difference in our
classrooms. It’s the expertise and passion of
our teachers, combined with the desire to
know the needs of our students, that makes
the biggest difference.
|Dozens of formal sessions frame the overall conversations