Next week I will be travelling to the USA for this year’s ISTE conference in Atlanta. Last year was my first taste of this conference when I attended with the Australian Council for Computers in Education (ACCE) Study Tour group. During that time, I was inspired to return to ISTE no longer as a first timer but also as a formal presenter.
I’m happy to say that both of those are true for 2014, and I am particularly looking forward to sharing and connecting with others in an inspirational space once again. I will be speaking on 3 occasions at ISTE 2014, both formally and informally.
Unleashing the potential of Google Forms
One of my absolute favourite ways of using Google Forms is to use it for powerful assessments. I have presented this on the GAFE circuit a few times now. Whilst not new, it will be the first time that I present this abroad. There might be a few spots left for anyone interested! (Session: Monday June 30th at 10:30am)
The 2013 ACCE tour group brings back many memories, but also a reminder of how much time has taken place since then. Karen Swift, tour leader has invited me to speak to this year’s group at the Featured Speaker Session. The talk is aptly titled STACCE13: 12 months after the fact, and is a narrative of the inspiration that was taken from the 2013 tour, the principles of “Ready, Fire, Aim”, and levering PLN’s to have direct impact on student outcomes and experiences during our tinkering with Genius Hour (a well known pet of mine!).
And finally, Hapara will be scheduling several speakers who are currently using their awesome tool in their schools with Google Apps for Education. I believe it is a excellent add-on to empower teachers to utilise Google Apps to its full potential. One of the ways that our school has been using Google Apps is with student e-portfolios, and Hapara has played a pivotal role in this process. I will be talking about some of our experiences of this at the Hapara booth in the exhibition hall on Tuesday 1st July at 10:30am.
In capturing some extended thoughts, reflections, learnings and memories from our recent #STACCE13 study tour, I thought I would create a Storify of select tweets and photos from the trip. It has been enjoyable to sift and pick out the key learnings and moments from each part of the tour and curate them into one journal. I hope that you, the viewers, enjoy reading about our experiences.
We met Anthony when our study tour group visited Microsoft in Seattle. Anthony was also attending ISTE13 in the following week. Narrisa Leung (@rissL, a fellow Victorian on the study tour) and I were invited to share our learning experiences from the study tour, as well as our insights into the Australian and American education system.
Despite our obvious passion for technology, when Anthony asked us about what would be a our most memorable take away from the study tour both of our sentiments reflected “peopleware” rather than specific elements of technology itself. Crucially, the biggest push in educational technology integration needs not to be the technology itself, but the professional development for teachers, the relationships, the pedagogy, and leadership for all stakeholders.
Over 2 weeks have past since the conclusion of ISTE13, which is probably just enough time to shake the hangover from so many learning opportunities and insights into what was a epic 5 day experience. Exhausted and jet lagged, I’m happy to be back in Melbourne; but I have now decided it is time to make a concentrated effort to post about our study tour experiences at ISTE13 after our industry and school visits in San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver.
Experiencing the conference was simply mind blowing. The enormity and scale of the conference was confirmed with me yesterday when an email arrived from iste.org. In the email they revealed that ISTE13 embodied:
Over 13,000 participants
74 countries represented by 1,855 international attendees
373 Access ISTE participants (our new, one-day virtual conference)
Over 4,500 exhibitor personnel
499 educational technology companies represented
Over 1,200 volunteers, and nearly 1,100 presenters
More than 50,000 tweets using the official #iste13 hashtag making it one of the top trends on Twitter during the conference
More than half a million pieces of digital content were created during ISTE 2013
14,000 downloads and activations of the conference app with 178,000 opens and 18,000 hours of combined use
Before leaving the tour, I was given sound advice from the ACCE president Tony Brandenberg, who offered that the conference needs to be done in byte-sized pieces. These words could not have been truer. ISTE13 was an amazing learning opportunity for any one who was in attendance, in both a physical sense and digital sense. With so much to do and see, you do run the risk of feeling overwhelmed by the scale of the conference (particularly if you are a first timer like me). At the same time, it meant late nights and early mornings. It meant full on schedules during the day by running from place to place, and switching modes cognitively from listening, to sharing, to collaborating, to discussing. Nevertheless, I found ISTE13 to be both thought provoking and inspirational.
I came across this great blog post which summarises the top 10 conversations at ISTE13, which gives good insight into some of the themes that were emmerging from keynotes, sessions, and thougts from attendees.
Below is an attempt to summarise my 5 major takeaways from the ISTE13 experience
A refreshed view on Game Based Learning (GBL)
Jane McGonigal (@avantgame) is a designer of alternate reality games, and was the first keynote speaker at ISTE13 with “Learning is an Epic Win”. Jane alerted us to the fact that there are now 1 billion active gamers around the world, and provoked us into thinking about how games could be used to solve real world problems and engage students in meaningful learning. I particularly loved her point about the nature of games and failing, in that a lot of gamers spend their time failing to reach the next level or required target. Yet these gamers persist and continue to try and try again. Why would gamers spend time, energy and money to play games to only fail time and time again? It made me think about the motivations behind the dynamics of games, and how these can be utilised for educational experiences. Jane offered a list of 10 positive emotions that games evoke, which really summarise the engagement and potential that games offer. If we could find even just a small way to use games to leverage educational content to evoke even some of these emotions with our students, I think we could make a big difference.
Jane McGonigal communicating the wide impact of games globally.
10 positive emotions from gaming.
I must admit, going into this conference I looked upon GBL with a lot of scepticism. Jane’s thought provoking keynote offered a lot of genuine insight into why gamification does matter, what it is, and what it is not. At the moment I am reading Jane’s book, Reality Is Broken: How Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World and it is changing the way that I think about GBL. A small snippet and some reflections from Jane’s ISTE13 keynote can be found below:
Google Apps as a platform for e-portfolios
Of the many sessions that I attended, a favourite of mine would be Helen Barrett’s (@eportfolios) workshop Create Interactive E-Portfolios Using GoogleApps: Docs/Drive, Picasaweb, Blogger, Sites . This year we introduced a 1:1 laptop program in our senior years, with the aim of using Google Apps to allow students and teachers to connect, publish and collaborate. Helen’s session was very valuable for me at this point in time in order for us to take the next step with Google Apps with our students, as they are well on their way to familiarising themselves with Drive and using Documents. For the last few years we have already been placing the emphasis and importance for students to self-reflect, collect and manage evidence and reflections of their own learning with what we call “Personal Learning Folders”. I look forward this term to digitising these in a more efficient and effective way with our students in the form of an e-portfolio that can be viewed and celebrated by all students, teachers and even parents. Helen’s site is a terrific resource of her expertise with eportfolios.
The ISTE13 Iron Chef Challenge
One of the spotlighted sessions at ISTE13 was the Iron Chef challenge. A fellow compatriot on the tour (@rissL) and I decided to have a go at this, and we were very glad that we did.
The Iron Chef Challenge was organised by the Young Educator Network. The idea of the Iron Chef challenge was to collaborate together with a group of people to solve a problem. You can read about the intent of this idea and the process behind the scenes at Krister Moroder’s (@edtechcoaching) blog post.
The problem came in the form of several ingredients which had to be used to form a creative solution. The solution was to be presented to a panel of judges and would be scored. @rissL and I teamed up with Michelle from Arkansas (@buckaress) and Lynda from Texas (@lswanner1) to form Team Naked Techs – “Keeping ideas simple and fresh, Jamie Oliver style!” (see the full list of teams here).
Our ingredients were:
A digital Citizenship program
A lack of shared vision with staff on how laptops are used
In our scenario we pretended that we would be applying our ingredients to a 1:1 laptop program that wasn’t going very well for students and teachers. We then had to come up with ways to solve the problem using only $12,000, our time, skills, and ideas.
We got to collaboration straight away. We decided to use Google Presentation for our slides. We set up a Google Doc to make notes of our ideas. We used Google Draw to make pictures of our dishes (solutions). Naturally we ran out of time in session but we could still work together later at night from our different hotels. We also drew on each other’s areas of expertise, abilities, and professional experiences.
The time came for us to present our idea (you can see all presentations here), and I’m proud to say that Team Naked Techs were declared joint winners along side Team Cruncheez! It was such a thrill to win the ISTE Iron Chef Challenge, and it was great to work together in a group of other like-minded individuals. I learnt a lot by listening to everyone else’s ideas about their problems and creative solutions.
As mentioned in @edtechcoaching‘s blog post – the words “Connect, Collaborate, Create” are served as a constant reminders of learning opportunities that should be offered to our students. But do we practise what we preach? The Iron Chef challenge was a creative way of getting the educators to experience these words in a real sense.
Best – keynote – ever!
Adam Bellow (@adambellow) is the founder of Educlipper and EduTecher. Hands down, this was the best keynote I have ever experienced. Adam was passionate, captivating and enthralling all at the same time. He was incredibly fast paced, enjoyable, and his use of visuals were extraordinary. At one point, I couldn’t take notes any more because I was just so captivated in what was happening.
Below are a series of tweets that I managed to blurt out in between being in total awe. These, for me, represent some of the most resounding points from Adam’s keynote.
I was humbled that I actually got to meet Adam in person a few days earlier at the ISTE Welcome Reception. He was nice enough to let me try on his fancy google glasses which he wore on stage when he delivered the keynote!
Adam Bellow is just one connection that ISTE13 has enabled for me. ISTE13 was a wonderful conversation starter and enabler of connections with so many other educators and like minded individuals. The little conversations here and there, the opportunity to come together in networks of people with a common cause, and being part of a massive movement in both a physical and digital sense has been awe-inspiring. I was challenged and engaged in many deep thoughts and conversations. For me, this reaffirmed Amanda Dykes’ (@amandacdykes) point that the most important thing in education today is people.
As I mentioned earlier, ISTE13 literally ran me off my feet but it was worth it in every sense. Evidence of my mental and physical exhaustion can be seen in this photo of myself and @rissL taken after Adam Bellow’s keynote to bring the conclusion of ISTE13 (note the swollen, puffy, panda eyes!):
Bring on ISTE14!
Some of the sessions at ISTE13 were recorded and can be seen here. The ISTE youtube channel has a collection of other videos that are also worth checking out.
So far it has been a bit of a whirlwind tour during our time here in the states. We have spent the last 10 days touring some of the tech giants of the world (Google, Intel, Microsoft, Adobe) as well as visits across the education system (from elementary, to secondary, right up to district level).
To hear from the tech companies and their take on education was interesting. There are a few developments in the work at each of these companies, and there is a definite recognition that consumers want applications and services that will run across devices. Hardware and software alike are continuing to improve to provide richer and more powerful experiences, which the consumer will ultimately be the winner as this innovation continues.
There is also a big emphasis on BYOT and BYOD concepts, not only from the industry perspective, but also from the education systems. There is no doubt that this will be coming like a steam train, and is already a reality in several secondary, and of course, tertiary systems.
However, large questions remain around some of the age old questions that we always seem to face. How is the technology enhancing teaching and learning? What are the factors of educational technology integration? How can ubiquitous access be provided for all students?
It seems that in some sectors of education here and back in Australia, that there are some schools doing extremely well at answering these questions. On the other hand, this is not a reality nor a consistency across the sector. I do feel though that the systemic and collective understanding within education over the last few years has improved in this regard. My fear however, is that given the rapid development of technology, the early adopters will continue to steam far and ahead of those who have not come to grips with powerful teaching and learning that is enhanced with technology.
Today is a day of transit for our group as we had to ISTE13 in San Antonio, which will no doubt, be an awesome experience!
Last year, I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the Australian Computers In Education Conference 2012 in Perth. It was here that the ACCE advertised their annual study tour for expressions of interest from educators wishing to take part. After hearing about the learnings, stories and experiences from previous participants of the tour, the ACCE13 study tour sounded like an amazing opportunity to expand my horizons. Needless to say, I signed up straight away!
Less than 1 year later, here we are, one day before departure, bags packed, ready to hit the USA for the tour. Tomorrow, a group of passionate educators across Australia will be departing Sydney, Australia for the West Coast of North America. We will be conducting industry and school visits in San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver. The tour will then arrive at San Antonio, where this year’s #ISTE13 conference will be held. This, no doubt, will be the epic highlight of the tour.
Over the next few weeks, I will be blogging about some of my experiences from the tour. You can join me on this blog or via the twitter hashtag #STACCE13, which is the official hashtag of the tour.
#STACCE13 tour participants, what are you most looking forward to?