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ISTE 2014, Atlanta Georgia

ISTE 2014 was held in Atlanta Georgia from June 28-July 1 at  the Georgia World Congress Center and had over 16,000 attendees.  It was a very memorable and insightful  experience and my first time attending a conference with so many  attendees.  The theme this year was:  Connected learning.  Connected world.  After reflecting on my ISTE experience, I  gained the high level perspective that most sessions and keynotes were all  contributing to the importance of personalized learning, authentic learning  experiences and assessments to challenge students to gain the skills, mindset,  attitudes and motivation to be successful no matter what challenges they  face.  An understanding of who we are as  learners and educators and how we can excel in a changing 21st  century was evident throughout the conference.


Opening Keynote

The conference started off with an opening Keynote with Ashley Judd an actress and humanitarian. Her keynote though not focused on educational technology told her very personal story of her childhood filled with molestation, abandonment and a dysfunctional family.  She reminded educators to not underestimate their ability to make a big impact in a troubled child’s life with seemingly little things like words of encouragement and eye contact.  See ISTE attendee thoughts about her keynote below.

Session Highlights

Game Design and  Development: Pedagogically Speaking
  • Adults underestimate what kids can do
  • Students learning game design and development were in middle school
  • Why Game Design and Development
    • 91% of kids 2-17 play video games
    • Nice entry point into computer science
    • Distinction between doing and understanding
    • Playability is a crucial test for students
    • Lowers barrier of entry to Computer Science
    • Student driven learning
    • Democratic environment
  • Student’s develop skills and are exposed to:
    • Computational thinking
    • Iterative Design: Play Test -> Evaluate -> Collaborate -> Refine
    • Problem solving
    • Coding, debugging
    • Project management
    • Collaboration
    • Time management
    • Design thinking
    • Critical thinking
  • Student Reflection
    • Changed perceptions of who a programmer is and looks like
    • learned to never give up
    • Work in large groups
  • Game Design Tools
    • Introductory Tools:  appropriate for younger kids and middle school.  Introduce students to design elements
    • Intermediate tools: strong introduction to programming, all objects programmed with events and actions
    • Advanced Tools: appropriate for high school and college, higher programming skills needed
      • Source, Unreal, Unity, CRY

What can Educators Learn from MOOCs & Learning Games?
  • Every decent game is a learning game
  • Challenge – people and kids are motivated by challenge
    • why do people select hard MOOCs or hard games to play
    • we respond to challenge
  • Failure
    • who starts a game without the expectation of failure and learning through your mistakes
    • run into a wall and grow to overcome that challenge
  • Feedback
    • receive a form of feedback every five minutes
    • feedback is the core to learning
  • Social
    • we are social learners
    • greatest challenge feeling of connectedness online same as F2F

Is The Future Now? A conversation with state leaders
  • eLearning Indiana Dept. of Education
    • office with 5 people
    • responsible for anything with instructional technology
    • 2009 legislative change, can use textbook money for hardware and software
    • mantra - connecting learners, empower the people and connect them
    • conducts hosted chat sessions, in and out of Indiana
    • move to 1:1 devices, needed coaching
      • 137 across state have been acting as coaches, got together online and created support group
    • Partnered with NBC Learn to provide resources  for teachers
    • Competitive Grant Funding
      • Innovation Planning
      • Digital Learning
      • Imagining and Creating
    • Flexible scheduling, because lots of 1:1 laptops
    • Customized Learning
      • Using tech to meet students where they are
    • Opted out of Common Core in April
  • North Carolina - Legislative Support for Digital Teaching and Learning
    • Digital Teaching and Learning , NC Department of Public Instruction
    • Historical Background
      • Dedicated funds to support digital teaching and learning, 10-18 million a year, split between schools
      • Researching Digital textbooks
        • Interactive with rich content
        • What does the legislature need to do to support this?
          • In fall 2012, convened a research commission
        • Crafted 4 piece legislation
      • Intent of legislature not to fund printed textbook after 2017
      • Flexible funding, lottery proceeds for funding
    • Ratified Legislation
      • Study Commission Recommendations
        • NC State Board of Education shall adopt a uniform set of Digital Competencies for all educators by 2017
        • Intent to fund only digital textbooks and instructional materials by 2017
        • Budget 11M 

What does innovative 21st century learning look like?

  • What is 21st Century Learning?
    • Everyone is a source of knowledge
    • Creating their learning environment
    • Collaboration
    • If you can dream it do it
    • Lifelong Continuum
    • Project based learning
    • Rigorous
    • Real life experiences
    • Active engagement
  • 21st Century Learning Exemplar Program
    • What does 21st Century Learning look like?
      • multiple schools models
      • engaged learning approaches
      • innovative practices
      • system support
      • student support
      • student voice
      • community collaboration
      • 4Cs in action
    • Where is it happening?
  • Dana Elementary School, Exemplar School
    • K-5 Rural School
    • 553 students
    • 83% Free and Reduced Lunch
    • 47% Hispanic
    • 34% Limited English Proficiency
    • very little parent involvement
    • Tech at Dana
      • Supports our Vision and Mission
      • Enhances the Learning
      • Grows Teacher and Student Leaders
      • Technology has to be part of this and build voice of school
      • Builds our Circle of Influence
        • How we are impacting community, society?
        • How are we making the world a better place?
      • Is Used to
        • Collaborate
        • Communicate
        • Create
        • Critically Think
        • Challenge Thinking
    • Professional Development: Supporting the Teachers
      • Differentiated
      • Timely, what you need right now
      • Embedded
      • Ongoing- topic Tuesdays, teacher teaching teachers
      • Formal/Informal

Top Ten Classroom Tools of the Maker Movement

  • The Maker Movement
    • Students take on challenges they care about
    • Form learning communities that are not getting into schools
    • All ages
    • If you can’t open it, you don’t own it
    • DIY, reinvent, recycle
    • A lot of the makers gave up on school, didn’t fit there
    • But every night, they build robots, doing engineering on their own, building prosthetic hand,
    • Kids are more in tuned with their outside interests then with schools.  Schools are not in tuned with their passions.
    • Kids should have the perspective that they can identify the challenges and provide the solutions
    • MIT now accepting Maker portfolios
  • Maker Faire – The Greatest Show and Tell on Earth
    • F2F event were all are invited to share what their creations and learn from each other
  • Top Game Changing Tools of the Maker Movement for Classrooms
    • Computer controlled fabrication (3D printing)
    • Physical/Wearable computing
  • Can we do this in school?
    • Homeostasis – Sheldon explains “Big Bang Theory”
      • If you push a big system, it pushes back
      • Only way is one step at a time
    • Can’t wait for the perfect budget, timing

Hack Your Classroom:  Learning Environments Agile Enough for Our Mobile World
  • Hillbrook School, Silicon Valley
  • Hillbrook School YouTube Page
  • Disconnect between expectations on being creative and what we give students
  • Opportunity to give spaces to assist with learning
  • Asked their design team
    • What you want learning to look like?
    • What kind of thinker do you want your students to be?
    • Team wanted students to be collaborative, go outside, own their space, no permission needed, tinkers, builders
  • Asked students where they felt most creative
    • Going outside, by a waterfall, quite place, with music playing
  • Created an Agile Learning Space
    • No front of the room
    • No teacher desk
    • Lined one wall for work
    • All furniture on wheels
    • Small student could rearrange the room
    • Reset room to diagram after use
    • Walls and table tops are writable
    • Watched from camera, how the room was used for a year
  • Behavior differences noticed
    • Student choice
      • way they do work, the order, analog and digital flow, what they are next to
    • Movement
      • Honor micro movements
      • Staying in one place can be uncomfortable and make one unfocused
      • Some students sit still, some move constantly
  • Outcomes
    • Students loved it
    • Teachers had mixed feelings
      • Felt out of control for some
      • Acoustics was noisy
      • Great for group work
      • Great for plays
      • Students are more aware of their collaboration. Their visible thinking generates more discussion.
      • Students are more apt to write out a practice problem on the tables than in their notebooks. Maybe the erase-ability lowers the risk..
  • Ongoing and future work
    • Effect of teacher desk placement on interactions
    • Effect of lighting on student and teacher energy
  • Things you can try – ways to test the waters without a budget
    • Stand or sit at the back of your classroom
    • Remove teacher-produced decorations
    • Show students it’s okay to stand up/fidget
    • Let students work outside, sit on the floor
    • Ask students how they would change the space
    • Move student desks every day for a week
    • Get rid of your desk!
    • Make materials more accessible to students without permission

Also some cool gadgets and apps were demonstrated including:
  • Serveball-
    • Ball with eight cameras that takes aerial videos
    • Night, smoke, fog vision
    • Applications firefighter
  • MYO –
    • Gesture control armband
  • Augmented Reality Apps
    • Anatomy 4D – Human body jumps out of page, shows different layers of the body
    • CoLAR – Print, color and see your drawing in beautiful hand-animated 3D
    • Game based learning, challenge other players


 Closing Keynote

Jeff Charbonneau closed the ISTE 2014 conference with his keynote focused on “What if.”  He reminded the audience to keep kids at the center of what we do and that good teaching hasn’t changed, just the tools.  Also, as educators we must give our students the skills and techniques then allow them the freedom to grow and become independent thinkers, problem solvers to be successful in no matter what they encounter in the future. He asked educators, What if:
  • We started looking at different things? What if we all started working together?
  • We get asked to do something we know NOTHING about, and we just say “Yes”.
  • The desire to invent, the desire to create was what drove you? What if it gave you the courage to do something different?
  • We had the courage?
  • We asked our students to be a little more self-sufficient? BEFORE we made them more group-sufficient.
  • We accepted the fact that we don’t have to be pigeon-holed into our subject areas?
  • We abandoned our comfort zones? We dress and act differently for our kids, why don’t we do it in other areas? What if we got uncomfortable for our profession? It’s time we got uncomfortable!


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