For those who are uninitiated to the tribe, ISTE is the International Society of Technology Educators. It has long been the preeminent organization for connecting and training teachers to use technology to innovate in their classrooms. Each year they hold a massive multi-day conference along with other smaller events and training throughout the year. This year though they announced several new initiatives to help advance teachers and classrooms more effectively. Their goals which I also feel passionately about are to:
- Move for delivering information to a hands-on exploration of learning initiatives.
- Move away from 1-size delivery of information to more personalized learning for teachers and students.
- Use technology to close equity gaps.
3 More Major Conferences
In addition to the larger ISTE conference which will be held next year at the end of June in Philadelphia, there are 3 more that have been added and spread across the country to give more teachers the opportunity to attend, play, learn, and grow. If you want to present at ISTE though you need to get on the ball now as the call for proposals opens August 30 and ends September 27th. The 3 other conferences are spread throughout the year.
From October 6-8, Detroit, Michigan will be hosting the first ever No Fear Coding Lab where you can explore computer science without feeling intimidated because you’re not some pro-coder. I’m sure most of your students aren’t either, but you can both benefit from the kind of critical thinking challenges that CS provides. Now you can turn your beginner skills up to 11. Check out the program and register before August 6th for a discounted rate. And even if you can’t make it, you can learn the foster the mindset by reading Heidi Williams’s book No Fear Coding.
On November 10th and 11th, the folks at ISTE will bring the first Creative Constructor Lab to Seattle, Wahington for those who strive to empower their students through hands-on learning. The conference will have a green screen room, audio recording space, and interactive playgrounds. So whether you’re into digital storytelling and movie making, sketchnoting, podcasting, robotics, or making, there will be a space for you. Check out the program and register before September 9th for a discounted rate.
Ring in the new year with the Digital Leadership Summit from January 10th and 11th in Santa Clara, California. If you are in a district (or even school) leadership role and are committed to deeply changing the instructional paradigm in your schools for the better than this conference will be time well spent. You can choose the learning and connection path that works best for you. It can include hearing from educational and industry experts and facilitators as well as off-site field trips to inspire you. Don’t expect to just sit back and learn as the expectation is to dig in and formulate the changes that will be taking place in your schools. Check out the program and register before November 19th for a discounted rate.
Continue your learning online with ISTE’s new digital classroom created in partnership with the Dominican University of California. They offer a variety of curated courses to help aid you in your professional learning experiences. Some of the topics include mobile learning, computational thinking, artificial intelligence, personalized learning, library practices, and, of course, digital citizenship. In fact, ISTE is committed to expanding the definition of digital citizenship beyond the dos and don’ts of online safety. They want students to become positive digital role models for social change. These courses aren’t free, but ISTE members receive a significant discount. Here is the digital citizenship course trailer.
ISTE now offers the ability for its members to become certified as exemplary EdTech educators whose focus is on quality pedagogy and the ISTE standards for instruction. Don’t think that this will be an easy certification process. There is a 3 step process that right now is only offered by 4 ISTE partner organizations. These include METC, NCCE, TCCEA, and NYSCATE in my area.
- STEP 1-You must complete an ISTE Certified Educator training with one of the 4 partners listed above. These include a 2-day face to face portion and five-week online portion. The currently scheduled NYSCATE sessions are August 9th and 10th in Albany, September 25th and 26th in Seneca, and November 29th and 30th in Fredonia. They shared a sample syllabus and suggest that the time commitment here is about 30 hours.
- STEP 2-You are expected to assemble and submit an e-portfolio of artifacts that meet the required standards. Educators have about 6 months to complete this and have it approved by an ISTE submission panel.
- STEP 3-Celebrate and share your certification expertise with others.
ISTE has now partnered with the people at TED-Ed (the people you know from those inspiring talks) as a way to showcase the voices as efforts of innovative educators around the world. TED has created a 3 part Masterclass to help educators (and other professionals) identify their ideas, plan their approach, develop it, and share their own TED talk. ISTE will even provide an access code for the course to members as well as allowing those who have completed the course to share their discussion at the next ISTE Conference. Educators, you can request an invite now.
Books & Journals
ISTE puts out a number of journals to expand the reach of educational research. They now have a new quarterly one called Empowered Learner. The current issue is chock-full of valuable information on a new vision for digital citizenship, Australia’s new Digital Technologies curriculum, distance learning, helpful tools, interviews, and artificial intelligence You can also view an online version.
ISTE has also released a number of great new books produced for across subject areas and for members across roles and settings. Two that I personally recommend related to special education are The New Assistive Tech by Christopher R. Bugaj and Dive Into UDL by Kendra Grant and my personal friend, Luis Perez.
Community of Learning
In addition to combining and refining some of the ISTE PLNs, they are also putting a new emphasis on expanding the reach and efficacy of those networks. They are also expanding their connection to affiliate organizations some of whom will connect to direct professional learning experiences. For at-home professional learning, you connect to one of expanding collection of webinars available. More will come on these.
The ISTE Standards should be informing all of the ways you utilize technology to bring 21st-century learning to your classroom. In 2016 they updated their standards for students, last year they updated their standards for educators, and this year they are sharing new standards for education leaders. They also have standards for coaches and CS educators.
Check out the ISTE Essential Conditions, the 14 conditions necessary to prepare your organization and you can even use their free tool to evaluate your system. I’m working on a new post to cover all of these in depth, but if you want to find some lessons already created based on ISTE standards, you can check out some of mine or check out the ISTE Standards In Action. For more information join the ISTE Standards community.
ISTE released a platform that shows ratings of educational technology tools and sites called Ed Tech Advisor. It’s a review and rating platform to help educators and schools have insight on tools, apps, and resources they can use. It’s fairly similar to the platform offered by Common Sense Media, but there are some key differences that may benefit you.
- CONNECTED TO COMPANIES: EdTech companies can update information themselves on the site, and given ISTE’s reach, they are likely to want to keep it up to date. That means that you’re likely to get the latest info and even learn about new companies who will choose this as a main point of entry.
- COMPARISONS: It allows you the ability to compare various EdTech tools you might be considering. This could be a good way to prevent buyers remorse.
- MEMBERS ONLY: One possible upside/downside is that it is members-only. That means that it isn’t as broad of an audience or participation pool as you might get if it were open, but it could mean the ratings are more reliable.
We’ll have to wait and see how robust the platform and its use become before we can say whether it will be a real benefit, but it does have a lot of potential to help.
ISTE encourages members and affiliates to take action in their community. You can connect to legislation and efforts in your area and connect to any number of education training programs provided by vendors.