ISTE 2013 was different from the previous ISTE conferences I attended. This year, I found a new reason for attending sessions. I wanted my colleagues to stop thinking I was crazy for spending my money and part of my summer to attend a conference. I wanted them to understand the value of this four-day inundation of knowledge and enthusiasm. So I set out to help them discover what I already knew.
All educators who attend an ISTE conference have something to offer. Genius is not limited to the ed tech superstars we covertly try to photograph. The problem is that so much of this genius remains contained at the conference. We have a responsibility to our colleagues—and our students—to share far and wide the information and ideas we gleaned.
Become a Technology Ambassador
I have colleagues who want to implement new learning tools in their classrooms, but they don’t know where to start. As an early education integrator, I decided to use ISTE 2013 to step into the role of ambassador. After my first day in San Antonio, I stopped going to sessions for myself and instead found topics I wanted to share with specific teachers in my building.
I didn’t wait until I returned home to share. During the conference, I pushed out new resources I’d found via Twitter. And I shared more than classroom tools. I became a matchmaker of sorts, using Twitter to connect educators I had met at ISTE with those I already knew. I also used EdCanvas to share resources on a variety of subjects, including science, social studies, technology and Edmodo.
As I prepare for the new school year, I’m excited about incorporating what I’ve learned in trainings for teachers, students and hopefully parents too. Here are some of the highlights I’m excited to take back with me:
Graphite: This tech website that launched at ISTE 2013 provides reviews and “top picks” as a starting point for teachers who are new to using technology. I am excited about its potential uses.
Google Hangouts: Students are sure to embrace this tool for its rich study purposes, as it includes some of the social elements they love.
ParentCamp: This is not a tool, but an idea. I envision a world where parents could request session topics they could learn about together. The education world is changing so fast, all parties need to be kept in the ever-changing loop.
Google Glass: We have a BYOT Club to keep students excited about technology and learning. Robert Pronovost has agreed to be the Google Glass Genie for the club and to make some of the students’ wishes come true. I know from last year’s success with the club that when students get excited, it’s contagious.
Looking ahead to ISTE 2014
At ISTE 2014 in Atlanta next summer, we have the opportunity to prepare more educators to be technology ambassadors—a role that’s not just for IT directors, tech coaches or ed tech superstars. Everyday teachers make great technology ambassadors because we understand the challenges our students face and the policies that influence our teaching.
So what can ISTE do to help other educators realize their potential as ambassadors?
- Provide conversation starters related to key themes of the conference to help attendees initiate productive conversations with new people.
- Create a daily digital publication attendees can forward to the #notatISTE crowd. It should include a mix of conference highlights and resource links.
- Offer newbie mentors, an idea that Jen Wagner proposed on Twitter. These mentors could provide perspective on gathering and sharing information with teachers at home.
At ISTE 2014, I want to be a technology mentor, ambassador, translator, cheerleader, guide—or anything else that will make my colleagues excited for ISTE 2015. Assuming I achieve this goal, I should have a large posse for 2015.