To pick up where Howard left off, ISTE 2010, is an amazing source of inspiration and rejuvenation. It is absolutely huge. There are 14,000 people attending. The conference site is so big that there are internal “bus stops” where an oversize electric golf cart will move you from one area to another if you are tired of walking. And Howard, good to know you are here, because I have not had the good fortune to even catch a glimpse of you!
This conference is about big questions and little gems. I have been challenged by questions such as – Does your school district have its own YouTube Channel? Does your district have a Facebook page? If you don’t, aren’t you allowing others to control the message about your schools? Are Facebook pages, Wiki’s and Blogs, the new school bulletin boards? Can you ask parent helpers to manage the new bulletin boards? Behind me is a demonstration of using cell phones in classrooms. It began with a texting answers over the cell phone to the question – how many of you are allowed by your district to let students use cell phones in your classroom?
There is a strong back channel of conversation here as folks maintain a flow of Twitter comments (marked with the hashtag #iste10 or #iste20) about things they like or did not like. While I got in a little too late to get to the Sunday keynote, Howard’s observations where gentle and kind compared to the Twitterstream I got to observe. Real time,immediate, feedback even if it was harsh. What would change in your classroom experience if you allowed your students a back channel to a real time chatroom or Twitterstream during class?
Those are big questions. Serendipity offers little gems. Like anything this size you tend to find ways to chunk things down and find your place. I find myself gravitating to the Blogger Cafe (where it is fitting to eat some lunch and write this post). This morning as I swung by the cafe on my way to the vendor area, I noticed a few folks that I have had online conversations with gathered on the cushioned seats. Paul R. Wood, Andy Losik, Lisa Thumann, and Vicki Davis where gathered with a few others around a Promethean board running an Elluminate session manned by Steve Hargadon of Classroom 2.0 fame. The session was connected to teachers and students in Africa, featuring Sharon Peters of Education Beyond Boarders. When so many smart people gather in one place you grab a seat. What followed was 30 minutes of online conversations with folks in Africa and some wonderful follow up conversations.Serendipity, indeed!
My biggest disappointment was that Discovery’s Hall Davidson, and Steve Dembo presented in sessions that were in conflict with other sessions I attended. Sorry, guys! However it was great fun visiting with the Discovery staff on the busy show floor.
Let me end this post with a gem of a link from Google. A brand new web site devoted to teacher training on Google apps that launched yesterday – http://www.google.com/apps/teachertraining
And remember, ISTE 2011 is in Philly. Hope to see you there!