ISTE 2022

 My first trip to an ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference was to San Diego a decade ago.   I was still a classroom teacher at the time, hungry for digital tools and strategies; to put the trip in historical edtech context, iPads were only two years old when I went to that first ISTE!  Unfortunately, I haven’t been to an ISTE conference since then…so I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to go (along with some SCPS teachers, and 14,000 others!) to this year’s ISTE conference in New Orleans.  It did not disappoint!  

Briefly, here are some of my personal highlights.

EEEASE into an “Explore Board”

Holly Clark may promise a lot with a session name like “The Perfect Blended Lesson,” but if anyone can come close to that ideal, it’s likely her.  One aspect I found particularly illuminating was her distinction between a “Choice Board” and what she felt was a better branded “Explore Board.”  An Explore Board is a hyperdoc carefully constructed with a pedagogical purpose, infusing digital tools; a Choice Board is often only a “tic tac toe”-style worksheet that asks the student to complete tasks that are digital or analog.  (The presentation Slides linked above have some templates and examples of Explore Boards.)

After the session, I reflected on Clark’s defined features of an Explore Board along with what I already knew about effective digital pedagogy.  I then made an acronym (because we all agree that education needs another one!):  EEEASE.  While this list of key characteristics certainly can specifically apply to essential aspects of an Explore Board, they could also apply to a well made blended learning lesson in general:

  • Engage the audience (the “hook”).
  • The students should Explore the topic to build schema, within a digital resource framework of “bumper rails” provided by the teacher. 
  • Explain what you want the students to do: the directions and step-by-step of the task(s), the desired outcomes, and possibly a rubric.
  • Students should Apply what they have learned or what they can do.  Optimally, the type of final product that demonstrates the learning is the choice of the student.
  • Students should digitally Share or publish their work (outside of the classroom when possible) or reflect/self-assess on what they have done; ideally, they will do both!
  • Offer a way to meaningfully Extend the learning for those that need more help or complete the work early.

STLP Gets a Shoutout! 

On the second day’s opening session, a panel of students shared their insights….and Luke from Trimble County was one of them!   He particularly praised Kentucky’s STLP Program as a crucial learning opportunity that he personally enjoyed and benefited from.  

LeVar Burton

Whether you know him from Roots or Star Trek: The Next Generation or Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton has been at the forefront of culture and education for decades.  Recently, he’s joined forces with BYJU'S (the parent company of Osmo) as their new Chief Reading Officer in order to create a new literacy app that’s about to launch, so ISTE became an opportunity to talk edtech and his life journey in an hour-long interview conducted by Donnie Piercey.   To sit in the front row of Burton’s talk will be a wonderful lifelong memory for me.

Learning and Practicing SEL in Virtual Reality

I found out about Project VOISS, a combination VR platform and lesson resource site where students can interact in a virtual school, practicing their choice of responses in various social emotional learning scenarios and seeing the consequences of those choices.  I’ve been intrigued by virtual reality learning for years, but admittedly the hardware requirements can sometimes be limiting (for example, the need for headsets); I was impressed that VOISS will work on Chromebooks.  They are currently seeking district and school partners to expand its platform usage. 

New Book

As a fan of PBL, I was excited to pick up a copy of Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss’s Reinventing Project-Based Learning (Third Edition) at ISTE’s onsite conference store.  It already looks promising to provide some insights for my district leadership in the coming school year.

Thank you to ISTE for facilitating such an inspiring and learning-packed conference!