ISTE 2011 Highlights from the conference and related events

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 Stephen Covey.

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 idea)
¦ 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.

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ISTE 2011 By The Numbers

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 funding.
¦ More than 10,000 wireless devices connected to the 6-mile network in one 24-hour period.
¦ Among the attendees were 1,152 presenters and 940 international attendees from 63 countries.

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.