It’s been an interesting week of reading reflections that have fallen from the ISTE Conference.
There seemed to be two big areas of concern:
- the Smart Badge tracking
- the Exhibit Hall
I’ve already shared thoughts about the tracking but I found interesting to see the comments about the Exhibit Hall. Nobody was neutral about it…
- some were over the top to see all the new things
- some were expressing concerns about the presence of commercial entities – typically with the bend towards corporate influence in schools
It’s the second expression that has me thinking.
- for many classroom teachers, this may be their first and only time to be able to interact and actually see what is “available” in education beyond what they’re given to work with by their districts
- for many district coordinators, it’s a chance to see what’s new and to talk to an actual human being about challenges they’re having with what they currently have or to pick up additional resources
- for administrators with budgets, it’s an opportunity to work alongside with the teachers and coordinators experiencing new products
- for the critics, it’s easy to take pot shots at the process – often these people are vendors themselves who elected to not participate or they’re self-proclaimed academics that know what works in every corner of ever school
I’ll admit that the technology fan people do go overboard at time gathering every give away and participating in “in-booth” presentations. But, going back, it’s often the only chance that they have to participate in this.
So, and especially for the critics, what would a technology conference look like without edtech?
- immediately, the cost of registration just shot through the roof. Exhibitors pay a hefty price to have a position on the floor and an even heftier price for the preferred locations
- forget about electronic presentations – those laptops have logos on them and presenters use identifiable software packages for their work
- we can’t have playgrounds because the products played with were obviously made by some company
- the concept of joining or meeting your PLN goes away because the tools that brought you together in the first place wouldn’t be there
- we could save a lot of money by not providing wifi
- actually, forget about the conference – technology or otherwise – pieces of technology have become so ingrained into everything we do, would anyone even come?
Obviously, I’m chomping down on my tongue as I write these. Heck, you should see the things that I edited out.
I think the thing that is most disconcerting is the assumption that those in attendance will all of a sudden throw away every bit of good teaching pedagogy because there is something bright and shiny on display. That’s an insult to our profession.
The onus needs to be put onto the organizers and designers to provide a learner experience for educators that focuses on good pedagogy and practice. Then, let technology nicely slide into place, where appropriate, as the catalyst that puts it over the top.