ISTE Conference Updates

6/30, 8:30PM

Links to Great ISTE Coverage on Other Blogs

OK, so I am adding yet one more entry to my ISTE11 page. As I’ve looked over Twitter #ISTE11, I’ve discovered lots of other bloggers who wrote about ISTE. Below are some of my favorites. I’ll be adding blogs over the next several days as I review the ISTE11 and EdTech Twitter feeds.

6/29, 10:00 PM

Alan November’s Presentation & So Long Philadelphia

Alan November always makes me think, and every time I attend one of his presentations I come away excited and challenged. Just for fun, here’s an information literacy quiz from the November Learning website. What’s your score?

On Tuesday, as usual, his presentation featured more than a few compelling ideas.

William Penn’s Prayer on the Wall at Philadelphia’s City Hall

  1. Kids use YouTube more than they use Google.
  2. Assessment is the weakest part when we use technology. We need to learn how to evaluate student work that uses technology.
  3. While school mission statements almost all mention the importance of global issues, many of them deal with technology in ways that limit the community’s global awareness and commitment (such as blocking Twitter).
  4. Projects that promote global awareness should begin with the youngest children and continue at every grade level.
  5. Country specific searches are important. I plan to write a blog post on this later on, but several times he stressed the importance of seeking and using sources that reflect the voice, history, and culture of a country.
  6. People in the U.S. are not especially good at seeking another country’s voice or even taking a different perspective seriously.

So this is my final ISTE Conference 2011 posts, but I’ll have many more posts featuring all of the information I gathered at ISTE.

Philadelphia is an exciting city. I want to visit again and spend lots of time at the museums and parks. And that amazing city hall — I heard that for many years it was the tallest building in the country. Can that really be true? Looks like I’ll have to do some research on the net.

6/29, 8:45 AM

The Bloggers’ Cafe

The last few times I attended ISTE, the Bloggers’ Cafe, drew me in again and again.The first time I mostly hung out, because I was not a blogger. I was intrigued and interested, but had no idea how to start and did not even think I had much to write about on a blog.

The Bloggers’ Cafe, for those of you who have never attended ISTE, is a centrally located area with lots of power and a variety of comfortable seating options. People come to charge machines and gadgets and to use them to communicate, and this year I came to this blogging cafe arena as a blog writer and an instructor who has used a blog format to teach.

It was here in the cafe around  noon on Sunday that I decided to blog about the ISTE conference several times a day through Wednesday morning.

Despite the fact that I was not a blogger when I first visited several years ago, my cafe visits came at an ISTE conference right after attending workshops on podcasting, perhaps three or four of them. Each time I dropped by the cafe I chatted about podcasts with one person or another (the cafe is as much for conversation as for blogging). By time the conference ended I knew exactly how I wanted to pursue podcasting at my school the following year, because of my conversations with tech colleagues who were already using them and creating them. I have been using podcasts as teaching and learning tools since that time.

I attended the current conference as a regular writer and enthusiastic blogger. What fun because I not only visited to update my own blogs, but through my conversations I became acquainted with quite a few other writers — and their blogs. These past few days it’s been impossible to arrive, plug-in, and not start a conversation with another blogger. While my writing probably slowed down, the conversations were all noteworthy for me.


  • Thank you for the wonderful wireless. Now at the next conference, figure out the charging situation at this conference, throughout the conference venue so everyone can be fully charged and use their devices as needed At this conference there is nowhere near enough power, and one spends a huge amount of time looking for outlets if not near the Blogger’s Cafe.
  • Consider having two well-marked Bloggers’ Cafes, perhaps at opposite ends of the venue, not because of the long walks, but because it is hard for a person to get to scheduled events and still spend as much time at the cafe as needed.

6/28 10:10 PM

Alan November and SIGIS WIKI

I have quite a few thoughts about an Alan November presentation early this afternoon but will blog about them (my thoughts) tomorrow, Wednesday, June 29th, which also happens to be the last day of the ISTE conference.

I do want to mention, however, that the SIGIS group has set up a page on the WIKI where SIGIS members can list their blogs along with a bit of descriptive information and also note personal Twitter handles. It’s necessary to join of the WIKI, but it’s a quick process.

I hope lots of people navigate to this page on the SIGIS wiki. It will be amazing and fascinating to see the depth and diversity of our blogging endeavors.

One more topic is the SIGIS Summer Reading study/reviewA New Culture of Learning —  including interaction with the author at some point during the process.

6/28  3:00 P.M.

Steven Covey Keynote

An ISTE keynote this morning featured Dr. Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His lecture was broadcast rather than live, and in many ways I felt that I was hearing the same thing that I’ve heard before when people promote his book and ideas. The CyberCafe Blog posted some excellent notes on the presentation, of course without reflecting my personal perspective.

His content doesn’t seem especially cutting edge because Covey’s ideas have been around and discussed so much already. My view is that we accept these ideas — most of us believe that the habits are an important part of  academic and professional life — and we assume that we need to encourage ourselves and others, whether teachers or young learners, to develop and cultivate them.

I read this book in the 1990’s. I have looked at his other books, but the message doesn’t seem especially different from the 7 Habits… I do not intend to sound negative because his ideas are terrific, but they have been around a long time, and it seems like there must be many other authors who can present fresher ideas.

The ISTE bookstore is selling The Leader in Me, Covey’s 2009 book about teachers, schools, and the need to educate students to be more creative and tolerant in order to meet the job demands to today’s society. Covey referred to some of this book’s concepts in his lecture, but not nearly enough to make people dash off to the bookstore and buy the book.

6/28, 12:00 Noon

iPad Collaboration and Learning

This afternoon I met and chatted with a technology colleague from a school in Houston, Texas. She, too, is launching iPads as learning tools. Our schools seem to be about at the same place in the iPad developmental process. We discussed iPad imaging, apps, and the ground rules of the Apple Education Application Volume purchasing program. More specifically we discussed the fast-changing iPad landscape.

Click here to go to the volume purchase site.

To install apps on multiple iPads a school has to apply for education bulk purchasing. Once accepted a school makes purchases via an alternative iTunes channel.

I showed her the blog that we’ve created at my school,, and she is hoping to get started with her own technology blog. She shared many of the apps that her school is putting on its iPad image.

All-in-all, a wonderful hour of sharing and collaboration.

6/28, 10:45 AM

SIGIS Meeting  (Twitter hashtag #istesigis)

Members of the SIGIS Executive Board at ISTE Birds-of-a-Feather Gathering

Forty people have gathered in a room at the Convention Center to chat about technology at independent schools. Joining us is one teacher from Winston-Salem, connected via back-channel WIMBA. Interesting issues. Looks like we represent more than 37 schools. I’ve just met three people from DC area schools. Issues that concern us include:

  • iPads
  • issues around online learning a priority
  • what a good upper school technology space looks like
  • examining the transformation of libraries in the digital age
  • staffing issues
  • 20 people at ISTE for the first time
  • person carrying the most portable devices – 5
  • one person has worked in the same school for over 35 years
  • networking is the most cited reason that people work with SIGIS
  • excellent resources on the WIKI
  • Youth@ISASSchools  TEDx Youth Day
  • book chat July 21 at #isedchat and followed by a webinar with the author

6/28, 8:42 AM

Philadelphia City Hall and William Penn

Picture from the Visit Philadelphia website.

If you haven’t walked through the Philadelphia City Hall, do it. From the convention center you can walk in all directions, north, south, east, and west. The sculpture and architectural details are amazing. Basically it’s a huge commemoration to William Penn, a Quaker and the founder of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia.

Penn’s entire land grant, an English debt of 16,000 pounds by Charles II, King of England in 1681, covers what is now Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Penn became a Quaker in England and served time in prison for his beliefs. But his commitment to religious freedom ensured that Pennsylvania became a colony that truly honored various religions.

If you stand on Race Street with your back to the convention center, a huge Quaker Center is down a few blocks to your right at 1501 Cherry St.

According to Wikipedia,City Hall took about 30 years to construct at a cost of $24 million.

7/27, 9:00 PM

A Lunch Spot to Visit

Susan Davis, Larry Kahn, and I found a great lunch spot about five blocks from ISTE and the Convention Center, where we joined a crowd of Philadelphians, happily enjoying themselves and their lunches.

Photo Kindly Taken by Larry Kahn

Check out McGillin’s Olde Ale House, located on an alley-type street, Drury Street (1310 to be exact), for a relaxed and enjoyable lunch (translated, no waiting). At McGillin’s, established 1860, I ate a good BLT with no mayo along with iced tea for under $7.00. Who can quibble with that?

Don’t hesitate if you get to the corner, look down the alley, and there are lots of delivery trucks lined up. Just walk by them, focus on your McGillin’s destination, and have a terrific lunch without the rush and the waits at the restaurants that are much closer to the conference. And, if you are ever back in Philly and need a place for a group to gather and socialize, the restaurant has a wonderful upstairs room for groups.

6/27, 8:00 PM

Parent Digital Education

I wish ISTE had a way connect educators who are also engaged in parent digital education at their schools.

Do you conduct parent technology education classes at your school?  If you do, I’d like to meet you. We all need to focus on much more than just digital citizenship.

Each year at my school I plan classes for parents. I hold three or four of them, teaching the majority of them by myself and collaborating with colleagues maybe once per year. I also post on this blog, now just over a year old, focusing on current topics or on information that I believe parents will find useful as they make decisions about digital details in their homes. I also maintain a small parent tech section on the school’s website.

I began holding classes for parents more than 10 years ago, because I found they asked lots of questions about technology issues, were curious about the constantly changing digital landscape, and sometimes worried a lot about the virtual lives of their children. My mission is to provide information and to reassure them that, while digital parenting presents unique challenges, they can succeed at raising digital kids by emphasizing important family values and thinking about limits (non-tech times, sleep, agreed-upon homework expectations, exercise, specific agreements about gadgets, privacy and digital footprints, etc.). And, of course, understanding that their children’s lives will be fundamentally different in wide-ranging ways, and that this aspect of their children’s lives is beyond their control. I usually schedule three or four parent tech classes, two in the fall and one or two in the winter/spring. Recently I’ve been running an online class, taught via a blog.

I find that the parents I work with at my school (and the other schools where I have presented from time-to-time) want to learn a lot about the tools, bells and whistles, and unlimited information in our digital age. In many ways their skills need to develop right along with their children — searching skills for instance. Schools have a responsibility here — more than just addressing problems when they occur or the current social media craze.

I wish the ISTE conference had a strand for educators like me, who are teachers in a school, but who also care about and support the digital lives of their students’ parents. I purchased Holly Poteete’s book, Kids, Computers, and Learning, which I think is well-done, but I have found that my students know how to do many of the tasks in the book, while their parents do not. Perhaps we need a book that presents these tasks for kids to teach their parents!

Currently I am running a short online course, taught with a blog, with the title Start a Family Blog.  It grew out of a blog post on Media Tech Parenting about the rich growth potential — in terms of digital citizenship, parent/child interaction, and virtual world skills — of a family blog.

6/27, 3:30 PM

Good Ideas Seem to Germinate at Conferences

Thinking about teaching and learning is so amazing sometimes, especially as an adult. You think and think and think about something, trying to understand, and then hear 15 minutes of a presentation and –BINGO!– your ideas fall into place.

This morning I attended a workshop about kids and research in the digital world. One spoken paragraph, toward the end, was about how to evaluate students’ technology skills, or more specifically evaluate students’ effectiveness as they use digital resources. Our kids are sponges, absorbing the digital world activities and information non-stop. However, our concern is less about how much they know and much more about how well they use it.

And that was when I thought about how I’d  like to evaluate what students do with technology. As I listened, it occurred to me that we should figure out some benchmarks or specific things to watch and observe as students complete their work. For instance, how effectively does a student…

  • search the web
  • respond to new online information
  • use keywords
  • investigate and evaluate an online resource
  • know how to recognize a poor quality resource
  • attribute work
  • take info off the web and incorporate it into an assignment

These are just off the top of my head, but I think it would be interesting to have a small set of these — no more than five — and evaluate the kids, perhaps in fourth and fifth grades. It seems like we need to know this information toward the end of elementary school in order to zero in on them more thoroughly in middle school. Much more thinking, but ISTE was the catalyst.

6.27, 12:00 AM (before bed, but I forgot to post!)

Sharing and Collaborating

Lots is going on at the conference. However, the biggest joy is meeting with colleagues and sharing ideas, knowledge, and those all-important new discoveries. Probably more than anything else, that’s the purpose of a conference like ISTE. I have been living and working in the educational technology world for some time, and meeting these people is always a highlight. I encourage first-timers to attend a conference like ISTE with a buddy, at least until connecting with other colleagues.

Great place for dinner and drinks.

Last night, well actually a about three hours ago, about 40 of us had dinner together, and we had a wonderful time together. The amount of combined information in the room was phenomenal. The group is coming together, and I expect we saw less than half of our colleagues this evening. The SIGIS group wiki can be found at First time visitors need to sign up for the wiki before exploring.

We enjoyed drinks and lite suppers at the The Farmer’s Cabinet — a good choice with a staff that was incredibly accommodating.

6/26/2011, 5:30 PM

Keynote by Dr. John Medina, Author of Brain Rules

I am sitting in the Terrace Ballroom of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, waiting for Dr. John Medina’s ISTE keynote presentation. Professor Medina is the author of the bestseller, Brain Rules. Last July, after writing a post for this blog, Multi-tasking is a Myth Professor John Medina Maintains, I attended one of Medina’s presentations, and he is dynamic, engaging, and very funny.

Dr. Medina lectures at bottom left with projected image.

But first we watch a movie about keeping a focus on learning and not giving up. Made by the students at Adobe Youth Voices the movie reminds to stay focused on the success of our students.

Looking forward to the new white paper on technology coaching! Coming out on Tuesday. I hope this has lots of info that can support the faculty  Tech Thursday presentations that I will be doing each Thursday after school next year.

Dr. Medina’s lecture was, once again, animated, humorous, and engaging. He pointed out that much of what people state about the brain is surmised and not based on scientific evidence, and especially not based on scientific research. As he said in the last lecture that I attended, every brain is wired differently from every other brain and learns differently from every other brain.

Most interesting quote: “The brain appears to have been developed to solve problems related to surviving in an outdoor environment under severe conditions.”

If he could design a school: The school would be one with regular aerobic exercise and the kids would wear gym clothes as uniforms so they could be constantly moving between learning tasks.

Best metaphor: The brain is like the superhighway system. Certain parts of the brain are fairly similar from person-to-person like the interstate routes and the state routes are fairly similar from road to road. But the local streets, boulevards, alleyways, etc. are unique and original from person-to-person.

New concepts for me:

  1. Theory of Mind is the ability to peer inside someone’s interior and understand rewards and punishment.
  2. Two sets of cognitive tools. The brain creates a richly structured database accumulated over time. And then the brain takes that information and improvises with the info.

6/26/2011 1:00 PM

Getting Started and Conference Observations

I’ve visited registration, and checked into the leadership reception to get a lite lunch. The convention center area registration area is bedlam, but that wonderfully good kind that overwhelms the senses no matter what direction you look in, so it’s hard to know where to look first. Besides walking up to get my usual convention bag of goodies, I can buy books, check out posters, and much more. Oh, and I haven’t mentioned the charging stations.

I am totally engaged by the charging stations. One was fairly quiet, and so I walked up and charged my iPhone (even though I really did not need to). The station has cables and labels for almost every type of wireless device. You just plug-in and wait. But bring something to look at. It’s a 15 or 20-minute wait while getting even a quarter charge. Will a time come when we have these stations on every corner?

Interesting comment by a speaker this morning: Not a one of us can do much work at all without our wireless devices; yet even many people who depend on their devices are skeptical about kids bringing them to school and using them in the classroom. The digital gap grows wider between what many schools are doing and the real world where people, including our students, live.

Speaking of the world, I’ve been here only a few hours, and I’ve already sat with people from Denmark, Australia, and Mexico.

6/26/2011. 11:30 AM

It’s been a good morning with ISTE leaders focusing on how to manage educational transitions into a world of mobile devices and social media. How can we get these resources more effectively integrated into the classrooms at our schools?We all know it isn’t enough to put the history book onto the device. The vision and teaching have to evolve.

After only a few hours it is amazing to see how many apps that people are already using.

Getting Ready for ISTE

6/25/2011 10:30 PM

It’s the night before the biggest educational technology conference of the year — the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). This convention is huge, taking over an entire convention center and numerous hotels in any city where it’s held. For me and for my school, the endeavor is time and money-consuming, so attending every year is not always possible. The exhibits? Out of this world!

This year it’s a go. I am already in the city, prepared to get started tomorrow morning. I’m so excited that it’s hard to get to sleep.

Visit the ISTE conference site.

A few hours ago it suddenly occurred to me that it might be fun to blog regularly from this conference.  Although most of the readers of MediaTechParenting are in the process or raising children, it seems like readers might be interested, at least a bit, in what goes on at an educational technology conference. So, over the next several days I plan to share all of my experiences (or as many as possible) on this blog.

My Informal Goals

  • Learn as much as possible about iPads in education.
  • Find others who are as passionate about educating the whole family when it comes to digital citizenship and media literacy. I’d like to talk to others about encouraging family conversations, discover more ideas that can help parents assist and support their digital kids, find other educators who regularly plan and lead parent tech classes, and share information about my new online parent classes.
  • Connect with people who are using interactive whiteboards, especially the Promethean models that we have at school, and share ideas.
  • Network with colleagues.
  • Return home with new ideas, new skills, and increased enthusiasm.
  • Use the summer to develop ways to use my new information to benefit students, teachers, and parents.

2 thoughts on “ISTE Conference Updates

  1. Pingback: International Society for Technology in Education Conference « Media! Tech! Parenting!

  2. Pingback: Learning More About What You Don’t Know « Media! Tech! Parenting!

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