DAILY INSIGHT: ISTE 12: Escalators, apps, and sitting - Tech Learning

DAILY INSIGHT: ISTE 12: Escalators, apps, and sitting

A seasoned ISTE-goer sums up this year's conference.
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By Doug Johnson, CIO Advisor

OK, the conference is over. After two back-to-back conferences, I am ready to go home. A few reflections...

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They've got the conference program app right. I did not consult the gd printed program but a couple times. My having an iPhone may account for why, this year, the app was useful. Next year, I'll populate my personal planner before I come.

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It's cliche to say, "there are two kinds of people..." But I do think you can sort folks by if they stand on the escalator or walk up it. Some of us just don't have the patience to be taken somewhere. And are annoyed by those who keep us from climbing by just standing in our way.

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I was thinking about a conference theme for ISTE 12. iPads, 1:1, flipped-classrooms are all kind of old news. Perhaps it was Yong Zhou's keynote who reflected a couple often heard conversations during the past few days - the importance of creativity and personalization in education. Yong's powerful arguments about the inverse relationship of high national test scores to national productivity and creativity may help turn the corner on the testing mania. I'm anxious to read his new book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students and see if it would make a good title for a district-wide book discussion.

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Two new catch phrases:

Being Netflixed- replaced by a new technology-based service. Blockbuster was Netflixed.
A black collar worker - someone who makes his living through creative, entrepreneurial work. Black as homage to Steven Job's black turtlenecks.

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Curating (I hate that word for some reason) student portfolios and managing online reputations were hot topics. Do we have a plan for kids to build life-long electronic collections of works so everything doesn't disappear when when they leave school? How big an impact do youthful indiscretions really have on careers and educational opportunities? Should educators being building their own digital portfolios? More good discussions to have in our own district.

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Everybody, and I mean everybody, at the conference has devices. And, according to a tech I was visiting with, it's been a real struggle to build wireless capacity. Many speakers are now asking the audience to participate in online activities. (Todaysmeet was the backchannel tool du jour.) Not so good when the wireless is weak. Hey, welcome to my schools! I think it was Elliot Soloway at last year's conference that said we should stop thinking 1:1 but be planning for 3:1 - three devices per kid! Best wi-fi we've had at ISTE, so congrats to those techs and the conference planners.

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The rhyme One, two, three. Eyes on me. One, two, eyes on you. works just as well with adults as it does with kids when trying to get from table discussion back to the whole group. My sesssion was well attended and the participants were terrific. Who knew library facility design would be so popular? Nice to see many admins and techs there as well.

Oh, a librarian came up to me just before I left and told my session for her was a "game-changer." And she said it sincerely. Those are the comments speakers and writers live for. If the librarian who said this to me is reading - thank you. You've given me a reason to keep pushing.

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Great talks by Hank Thiele on dispelling the myths of Google Apps and by Kristin Hokanson and her panel on fair use and copyright. (Her video remixes before the session were brilliant. I am so stealing this idea.) Carolyn Foote's session on iPads in the Library is going well as I write this.

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The SIGMS events were really fun. The social learning panel, led with Steve Hargadon's mini-keynote, was exciting. I always like hearing new voices and leaders from the field. Alan November at the breakfast was his usual charming self at the breakfast. I don't think he realizes that librarians may be a couple years ahead of him on some of his "new" ideas.

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The Sir Ken Robinson keynote was, to say the least disappointing. After being herded into the hall by the conference center Nazis, we got 10 minutes of Sir Ken (who was his usual charming self) and then a damn panel. I got nothing from the panelists, I'm afraid. More Ken, less sales pitches, please ISTE. This did NOT work. Nor did Stephen Covey's talking head video at last year's conference. Spend the money. Give us a real keynote. And more dancing robots please.

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I am sick of long lists of new apps shared.

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My butt felt so tired at the end of the day. You quickly figured out if you really wanted a seat, you better be there 30 minutes early. So you wound up sitting for 90 minutes instead of 60 minutes. Is there such a thing as too big a conferenc? I spent 30 monutes in the exhibits area - felt overwhelmed and depressed - and left. Had I not a small group my PLNnies, this would have felt very lonely.

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All said, ISTE is still be best conference going. It's easy to snip about details, but it's something everyone should go to.

But don't - think of the lines for the bathrooms!

Doug Johnson has been director of media and technology for the Mankato (MN) Public Schools since 1991. His Blue Skunk Blog averages more than 50,000 visits a month, and his articles have appeared in more than 40 books and periodicals.

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