It has been a whirlwind tour but one I have been incredibly fortunate to be a part of. I have just returned from a trip to the US to attend the ISTE conference and to visit a few schools in New York. Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love was home to the ISTE conference for 2015. The conference is the world’s largest EdTech conference and was held at the Philadelphia Convention Center. The Convention Center is one of the largest conference spaces that I have ever visited and I clocked up the kilometres walking around. The conference kicked off officially on the Sunday with a Keynote from Soledad O’Brien but there were a load of pre-conference sessions going on on Saturday and Sunday. I attended the inaugural TeachMeet ISTE (#tmiste) hosted by Australia’s very own Matt Esterman (@mesterman). Matt and his co-host Kyle Calderwood (@kcalderw) hosted three TeachMeet sessions and the quality of the sessions were absolutely amazing. I curated a list of the great takeaways from the conference in the below Flipboard magazine but for more amazing educators to connect with, ideas and resources, check out #tmiste15 or the official #iste2015
With over 18,000 delegates, the conference can be (and was at times) very overwhelming. Veteran ISTE attendees had shared the following advice with me…let your learning breathe. Don’t fill up every minute of your day with bookended sessions but choose a few to attend and then spend time taking it all in. These breathable times were the best for me. The poster sessions offered this for me. As always, the stands where students are interacting with teachers and demonstrating their learning where the ones I gravitated towards. Here are two examples:
- Listening to Eduardo, an 8th grader from a school in Mexico explain to me in his second language about their compressed air engine project was spectacular. No script, just passion and depth of learning. Check out their website here
- Hearing Omar, a 7th grader from Colegio Altamia talk about the robot turtle that they had programmed using Vex robotics that could mimic the movements of a real turtle. The students had studied the biomechanics of the turtle and built the robot as their own personal project.
I tried to be as eclectic as possible with the sessions that I attended. From sessions about using the Raspberry Pi with the iPads (find the resources here) to sessions about iBeacon technology (session notes here) to sessions about Games and Virtual environments (Great ISTE resource here), I was drawn to the hands-on sessions about little passion projects that I am working on. The Expo hall was out of this world and one could easily spend days in there exploring the latest gadgets and toys on the market.
The greatest part of the conference for me was connecting with those in my PLN who have long enriched my learning and meeting new amazing educators from all across the globe. Thanks to Colin and Phil from Verso, I attended a great luncheon with Alan November, Sunana from the League of Innovative Schools, members of the South Fayette School District and Annabel Astbury from ABC Spash discussing the current landscape of education. I caught up with Matt Esterman, Cam Paterson, Andrea Stringer, Tina Photakis and met many new outstanding Aussie educators. I spent considerable time developing connections with educators from the Denton School District in Texas and also got to visit Mark Erlenwein and his fantastic school, Staten Island Technical School.
The challenge as always with an intense inspiration period is to digest and sow seeds of implementation. For me, these seeds are the global connections. Having a relationship with the individual at the other side of the globe really helps to foster and grow a rich school partnership and this is the area that I am going to focus on.
Thanks for reading.