ISTE Day #2

I found it interesting, upon reflection, that the second day of the ISTE Conference was a day of networking.  There were more opportunities to talk and make new connections and sharing ideas.  My score card, at the end of the day reads ….

Music 1
Web Development an Applications 1
Google Spotlight 1
Infographics Spotlight 1
Research Paper

1

Mobile Computing

1

Best Ideas

1

Mindsets for the 21st Century: Unleasing Leadership Potential in Students
The conference was in for a real treat with a simulcast presentation by Dr. Stephen Covey.  He gave an inspirational talk about unleashing the potential that exists within all students and how to set them up to be leaders.  The talk focused on three of his seven habits and it tied very nicely to the classroom.  Normally, simulcast presentations don’t fully engage the audience but that wasn’t the case here – at least in the area that I was located.  He summarized his presentation with the following challenges:
1.  empower students with effective mindsets
2.  to help students to see their worth and potential

If everyone in the audience is capable of doing this, remarkable things are possible.  Dr. Covey definitely had the quote of the day "Seeing students as test scores is the worst form of identity theft". 

Then, it was back to the exhibit hall.  I’m wondering if it’s even possible to cover the entire floor in the three days.  The proliferation of interactive white boards continues.  There were so many new players onto the scene.  I do find that the application is definitely much shallower than with the two big companies.   Without a proprietary software, the other offerings just become display screens.  I hate to say if but the original premise of this technology seems lost.  I did get a chance to spend some time at the Microsoft booth with @alfredtwo and chat about their offerings and to find a sympathetic shoulder for the lack of Computer Science sessions.

Then, it rained.  Man – did it rain!  It definitely killed the prospects of a long walk for lunch.  Oh well.

Back to the conference, I wanted to get into a session dealing with infographics but it was full so it was back to the exhibit hall for some more wandering.

What Teachers Are Doing with Mobile Learning in K-12 Classrooms
I’ve been a fan of Elliot Soloway’s work for a long time.  My initial steps in portable computing were inspired by his work at the University of Michigan with Palm devices.  We bought a number of those alone with probeware for science investigations by students in the past.  I was interested in his current thoughts as he paired with Cathleen Norris.  They presented results from their research into the effectiveness of portable computing devices and asked us to think ahead five years to see how pervasive these things will be.  It’s not a difficult task.  Where I disagree with them though, is in the mode of connectivity.  I still think that these devices need to be connected to the school network and not to a wireless provider.  There are legal implications of allowing connections to just the telco not to mention that the remoteness of some locations and thick school walls does lead to a lack of connections quite often.

The Best Educational Ideas in the World: High-Tech Learning Adventures
A visit to ISTE would not be complete without an opportunity to hear the most recent thinking of Dr. Gary Stager so I settled in to get a grounding in reality.  Much of Stager’s thoughts are driven by Piaget and Papert and their words of wisdom were sprinkled thoughout.  The Computer Science teacher had me nodding about the thoughts of constructivism and having students do tasks worthwhile and creating projects of substance involving thinking and creativity.  His handouts are online at:  Stager.org/handout.  The biggest takeaway for me was Stager’s thoughts about people who make the comments "It’s not about the technology".  He affirmed that it absolutely is about the technology and that the trite comments minimalizes the potential of effective use in the classroom.  People need to think about this and use it as a focus.  Otherwise, all the money is just wasted.  He challenged us to think of our computer skills and compare them to desired literacy skills.  In that context, are we really computer literate?  Hmmm?

Then, it was off to wander the poster sessions but I got sidetracked for a fascinating discussion.  There was a gentleman at the conference from the US Department of Trade.  He was working the floor for vendors who might be looking for assistance in promoting their products and services abroad.  I spent at least an hour talking about the possibilities and the reality of marketing in a global climate.  Great discussion about unionized work and outsourcing.  It was particularly relevant given the news of the Bay Bridge construction in San Francisco.

As I waited for my partner to go head out, I had a chance to talk with an Apple rep in the hotel lobby.  I was sharing my thoughts about Soloway’s presentation and comments about the lack of probeware for the iPad.  He indicated that he had taken his 10 year old probes and connected to a bluetooth bridge and was able to use them with his iPad.  I need to explore this further.

Then, in all this heat and humidity, it was time to put on a tie and sports jacket and head to the reception for Canadian innovation.  This year, this event was held at the Union League and it was a chance to talk with other Canadian educators and technology leaders.  The Canadian Consulate was one of our hosts and it was a wonderful chance to have some great discussions way beyond the ISTE beaten path.  Lots of friends, old and new were there.  As you can see from the image, we were in the Abraham Lincoln room.

It was the perfect setting and I got an opportunity to have a discussion about the Canadian efforts to export our products and services to a wider audience.  At our group shot, we were inspired to have a group singing of "Oh Canada" and a sharing of Canadian trivia with our American friends.

Oh yeah, supper.  About 7:30, it finally clicked in that we hadn’t eaten yet!  So, it was off this time to a Brazilian steakhouse where you couldn’t possible leave hungry!

Picture of the day…from the opening presentation before Dr. Covey’s speech.  Robots are always a crowd favourite…

Day 3 begins shortly.

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