ISTE CONFERENCE 2019
What an exciting privilege it was to be selected for the Marie Clay 2019 travel award.
I had been aware of the ISTE (International Society of Technology in Education) conference for some time. In previous years I had followed the conference online through the twitter hashtag, finding some great links to professional reading and resources. It looked like such a fun and energizing conference offering wide ranging learning opportunities. So of course, thanks to NZLA I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend this years’ event held in Philadelphia, USA.
ISTE is by far the biggest conference that I have ever attended and initially I felt a little daunted by the sheer size of it. However, prior to arriving in Philadelphia I was able to explore the conference website and download the app to design my own conference pathway. Every delegate at this huge conference custom designed their own experience. Throughout the conference I was able to use the app to modify my programme, collect resources, and receive messages, reminders and alerts. Each delegate also wore a ‘smart-badge’ on the conference lanyard which tracked their progression through the conference, although the option to opt-out of this tracking system was also offered. QR codes were also used quite extensively. In short, technology was integral to this conference, I really enjoyed working this way.
A highlight for me was attending a lecture based session entitled: ‘Leading from the LIbrary in a Digital World’, by Shannon Miller and Bill Bass. (They have co-authored a book with the same title) In this session they discussed how the very definition of literacy is changing and how school librarians should be leaders and digital mentors through this change. The five key points from this session aimed at school librarians were:
Be a force for change and be leaders
Digital age mentors - building partnerships
Know your culture
Tell your story - be a champion
Leading through equity.
I enjoyed this session very much, the key points really resonated with me and made me resolve to ‘tell my story’ a little louder by promoting the work I do in my school library more, digitally of course! I’ll be doing this through blogging and tweeting. Their point about ‘Know your Culture’ affirmed to me that at my school we work hard in the library to build a collection and deliver learning experiences which reflect the diversity of our community. They also stated in this session that; ‘Librarians have a broader lens than teachers and administrators,’ and ‘The library is the heart of the school’. I have to agree.
Throughout the conference I tended to focus on Digital Storytelling, because I think this is the essence of the change in what it means to be literate. It also encapsulates my two roles as a library teacher and a digital facilitator and my belief that as educators we should be encouraging our students to be creators not just consumers of content. A quote which I came away with from a Digital Citizenship session is: ‘The more they create content; the smarter content consumers they will be.’ I believe this to be true. I attended conference sessions on: Using Adobe Spark in the classroom, the chromebook infused classroom, GAFE Tools including extensions and add-ons, hyperdocs, activities for engaged and interactive learning. I found that ‘app smashing’ combining different apps to create content featured quite frequently and this is something I intend to explore further too! Many of the sessions were delivered by passionate classroom educators, much like those who can be found at our NZ based conferences. From each of these sessions I came away with resources and ideas for further exploration.
I also really enjoyed exploring some of the digital ‘playgrounds’ available at ISTE. Again my focus was building literacy through digital storytelling. I was able to look at some augmented and virtual reality tools and apps. I went to a practical classroom session from Apple which demonstrated some of the latest iPad tools available and the potential for students to create. I also really enjoyed learning more about green-screen production techniques and uses in the classroom and this is certainly something I look forward to trialling at school. I am particularly keen to help students to use green screen video techniques for book and library promotion. There is also great potential for students to use green screen video techniques to tell their stories or share their learning. I visited the NASA digital playground and learned about what they offer in education.
The expo hall was amazing, huge and packed with many of the latest innovations in education. There were so many products to explore that it was actually a bit overwhelming. However two of the many things which stood out for me were; merge cubes - a new augmented reality tool which when teamed with a (paid subscription) website allows students to build their own virtual world and then hold it in their hands. I thought this had great potential for students to build and interact with scenes from literature. It also offers other AR experiences with can be accessed through ipad apps. Another product which I really liked the look of was cubelets - a modular build your own robot system.
The mainstage speakers at the conference were diverse and interesting. They were billed as ‘Inspiring Stories from Bold Leaders’ and for me it was refreshing to hear from keynote speakers who weren’t necessarily presenting from an education point of view. There were some inspiring stories from creators of content too.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of attending the ISTE 19 conference is the on-going learning that it has left me with. The learning did not end when leaving the conference and in fact, hasn’t ended yet, as I still have many resources, links and articles to explore. My sincere thanks goes to the NZLA and to my school for making this wonderful learning experience possible for me.