ISTE Keynotes Fail
More than 13,000 attendees roamed the Pennsylvania Convention Center over the course of the show.
By Dean Shareski
ISTE 2011 has just completed and once again, people left with a variety of experiences.
The intent is to offer enough variety and content that everyone can have
a great learning event. There are sessions, workshops, student showcases, social
gatherings, exhibit halls, and more than enough choice for people to find an
event that meets their needs and interests.
The only real unifying events are the keynotes. These represent a singular
experience for attendees that ensure at least a common conversation and viewpoint
that everyone can explore, debate, and ponder.
Given the “T” in ISTE stands for “Technology,” it would seem to me that the
keynotes should, in some way address technology. They didn’t. That’s not to
say they didn’t offer value. Given that only one of them was a K-12 educator,
I’d have to say the choices seemed odd. I’ve read John Medina’s book and it’s
a great read with some important ideas for educators. But it’s not about technology.
I’m guessing 95% of ISTE attendees know more about technology than
The conference closed with Chris Lehmann, principal of
the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. Chris did
have an important message and his school uses technology
in some powerful ways. His students were inspirational. But
his talk wasn’t really about technology.
Certainly many believe we ought to be shifting to ideas
that learning is learning and it’s not always about technology.
I agree. But at the same time, this is an organization
whose mission is to help schools effectively use technology
for learning. Shouldn’t we at least be trying to focus on
learning and technology?
This year’s show floor seemed to have fewer squeegie balls but more information.
Finding keynotes that everyone will enjoy is almost
impossible. In the age of TED and online video, it’s difficult
to find someone whose message is fresh, provocative, and
inspiring. I’ve attended the last four ISTE/NECCs and have
yet to recall a keynote that truly was memorable. Here is a
list of a few people I think would be great keynotes that are
actually doing or working directly with technology:
¦ Sugata Mitra (a thought-provoking experiment and
¦ Danah Boyd (knows more about teens and social networks
than almost anyone)
¦ Biz Stone (the story of Twitter)
¦ Ze Frank (understands the Internet in ways most don’t see)
¦ Conrad Wolfram (a true mathematician)
There are dozens of others who fall into the caliber of
speakers that are using technology or can offer research
directly to our use of technology in schools. Who would you
like to hear keynote?
Whose Data Is It Anyway?
During the ISTE conference, CoSN hosted a chief
technology officer forum, titled “Whose Data Is It
Anyway? Public and Private Data in the Age of
Sharing,” that explored ways CTOs can implement vital
data-sharing policies and standards.
Kevin Hogan spoke with these
panelists before the panel discussion.
Scan HERE to see these interviews.
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The totals are in for ISTE 2011, held
at the Pennsylvania Convention
Center June 26-29 in Philadelphia.
Here are the official numbers:
¦ 13,336 registered attendees.
¦ 4,562 exhibit personnel.
¦ Dozens of workshops with
more than 2,611 tickets sold.
¦ 1,423 booths and 501 exhibitors.
¦ 149 registered journalists from
around the globe.
¦ 1,025 attendees sent more
than 3,000 letters to the U.S.
Congress in support of education
technology programs and
¦ More than 10,000 wireless
devices connected to the
6-mile network in one 24-hour
¦ Among the attendees were
1,152 presenters and 940
international attendees from
Collaboration, Community and ISTE 2011
By Frank Pileiro
If you couldn’t make it to this year’s
ISTE conference, check out the following
resources to give you a “flavor”
of what you missed:
¦ The ISTE YouTube Channel: It
has some great videos of the keynotes
(see Chris Lehmann’s and be
inspired), interviews, and overviews
of the conference.
¦ The ISTE Unplugged Wiki:
This wiki was created for those who
always wanted to present but were
not selected. This wiki, run by Steve
Hargadon, allowed attendees to sign
up for spots to present to their peers.
¦ Use your Twitter hash tags to
search out some good information
that you may have missed. Search
for #ISTE2011, #ISTE11 or, if you are an
ISTE member and belong to a Special
Interest Group, just plug-in the initials
of your group.
As huge as this conference was,
it was still all about collaboration
and sharing. If you didn’t stop in a
“Playground” or a poster session,
you missed out. Overall, it was a
chance to see the best of the best
showing off their talents and being
more than willing to tell you about
how they do it.