Reflections on ISTE 2014 Atlanta

Last night I came back from ISTE 2014 in Atlanta. As ISTE always is, it’s empowering, inspiring, overwhelming, and exhausting. This year, I had the privilege of becoming a board member of the ISTE Independent School Educators Network  (new twitter hashtag #isteisen) and Co-Chair of Professional Development with Kelsey Vrooman. If you want to join us for our first Professional Development event, we will be discussing Danah Boyd’s book “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” (available at book retailers in print and eBook form and as a free download here) with the author on October 7 at 3:30 EST. This event is free and open for all via this link.

It would be impossible for me to discuss everything I took away from this conference – there was just too much! However, I can highlight a few things. Google, as we have seen at ISTE’s past, has really raised the bar with free professional development and resources for educators and schools. You can learn more about Google Apps for Education (GAFE) here. Google expanded on its release of Classroom, that will hopefully be available this fall. The Google Playground also presented several cool features. One of my favorites is fusion tables, Moss Pike of Harvard Westlake School demonstrated how you can use this in conjunction with Google Forms to delve deeper into your data (e.g. using a school survey and then analyzing collected data by age, grade level, department, etc).

Courtesy of Deviant Art

Courtesy of Deviant Art

Gamification was a big theme at the conference as well. Numerous educators and students held poster sessions and talks demonstrating the power of Minecraft in their classrooms. Douglas Kiang of Punahou discussed the power of games in his presentation “From Minecraft to Angry Birds: What Games Teach us about Learning.”

Vinnie Vrotny, the new Director of Technology at the Kinkaid School, organized and hosted the Maker Playground. The Maker Movement has become a key theme in education and the role it can play in children being innovative, inventive, and invested in their own education.

Overall my take away from ISTE is that technology is quickly revolutionizing education and encouraging discussions and change.

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