Monday, July 31, 2017

Top ISTE 2017 Takeaways

Phew! ISTE 2017 has come and gone. We are reflecting on and digesting the amazing ideas and information we gathered throughout the four-day conference. Check out our top takeaways from the world’s largest Ed Tech gathering!

Think Outside the Box with Google Tools
BVSD students and employees have access to a powerful suite of Google tools. How these tools can be implemented in instruction are limited only by your creativity. Challenge yourself and your students to think of new ways of using existing tools!  For example:
  • Consider using Google Slides to design posters (hint: change document size in the File menu)
  • Collect GPS data in Google Sheets and create custom Google Maps to plot your findings, then publish in Sites (Example: Maple Project)
  • Use Google Drawings and Slides to prototype app designs (templates here & here).

Technology can Help us Shatter the Single Story
In her keynote speech Jennie Magiera, Chief Innovation Officer in Des Plaines, IL, encouraged us to give students more of a voice. She gave examples from her own childhood and others to illustrate the danger in seeing students as a “single story”. According to Magiera, “it’s a teacher’s job to amplify the untold story of our students’ potential.” Online video can be a powerful platform for giving students a platform and an audience for them to share their full stories. Don’t miss your opportunity to learn from Magiera when she keynotes at the Colorado Summit on November 4.

Early Coding: One Way to Close the Innovation and Tech Gender Gap
Reshma Saujani, the founder of, shared research and findings from her own efforts to demonstrate the gender inequality in technology. There is a tremendous opportunity for growth in this area, and Saujani is trying to accelerate this by supporting the founding of thousands of “Girls Who Code” clubs across the US. If you are interested in starting a Girls Who Code club at your school, you can start the process by visiting this link.

Formative Assessment Has Never Been So Fun!
Checking for student understanding during a lesson or unit has never been so easy or fun! Monica Burns of encouraged us to make sure our formative assessments are meaningful, sustainable, and scalable. Here are some of our favorite formative assessment tools:
a) Spark Post is a simple graphic design tool that students can use to creatively demonstrate understanding
b) Recap is a service that encourages student reflection through the use of video
c) Kahoot is developing a new mobile app that allows students to also see the question on their screen, thus enabling “homework challenges” that can be assigned
d) Padlet is like a virtual wall of sticky-notes to which students can post text, images, and more to show understanding.

New ISTE Standards Create Empowered Learners
ISTE’s standards for students, educators, and administrators have evolved significantly over the years. Think not of things to do, but ways to be. At this year’s conference, the latest iteration of these standards was unveiled. Check out the detailed standards here:

Augmented and Virtual Reality are Everywhere!

As soon as we entered the conference hall lobby we were greeted by a big sign advertising the ISTE 2017 Augmented Reality game, encouraging attendees to search for and scan various hidden clues throughout the venue. The presence of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) was hard to miss this year. Microsoft demonstrated its Hololens headset by having participants analyze historic artifacts. Google demoed the latest version of its Expeditions software which uses AR to let you look inside Rome’s Colosseum, for example. Multiple sessions and playgrounds were available to conference attendees looking to try out the latest experiences. You will be seeing a lot more of this in the next couple of years, and there will surely be many interesting educational applications.

Let Students Take the Lead
On the heels of the latest ISTE standards with a focus on empowered learning, many schools are already taking steps to let students take the lead with technology. We met students from a school in Texas who had organized a half-day tech conference for students, by students. Sessions ranging from document design to virtual reality were offered to the student body, with additional networking opportunities built into the schedule. How are we providing opportunities like this for our students?

What Were Your Takeaways?
Comment below with what inspired, challenged, or amazed you about #ISTE17 and mark your calendars for next year’s conference in Chicago June 24-27, 2018.

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