Sunday, July 6, 2014

Learning How to be EdTech Savvy at ISTE2014

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.

I had the privilege of attending the 2014 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Convention and Expo in Atlanta.  ISTE is a nonprofit organization with the mission to “serve educators and education leaders who are committed to empowering connected learners in a connected world.”  This was my first ISTE Conference & Expo, and I can honestly say I was not prepared for how truly big the event would be.  The Conference lasted for four days, and the Expo was one day less. 

I have attended and presented at a variety of conferences in my educational career.  However, most have been in the Social Studies or History field where technological seminars or companies were few.  ISTE2014 was a chance for teachers at all levels to get together and learn more about integrating technology in the classroom.  The Expo was a chance for attendees to see over 500 exhibits and 4,500 industry representatives.  Attendees were so connected to technology that the #ISTE2014 hashtag was trending for the length of the conference. 

One key aspect of the conference for this first time attendee was the realization that technology is evolving and teachers should embrace and not fear it.  Ultimately it is a tool that can make student learning more effective.  Teachers are still the key ingredient. Knowing how to effectively incorporate EdTech is an important part of engaging leaners.  The technology being used is most effective when the teacher is a confident, knowledgeable user or adopter.  The following are just some of the ideas I learned from ISTE 2014 that can help all of us be a more EdTech savvy teacher.

There are wonderful programs that allow teachers to successfully incorporate technology into their lesson planning.  The trend I sensed was that many companies have switched from a downloadable software to cloud based programs.  Programs like ClassFlow and BrainPop allow a teacher to interact with students in real time and obtain real time results.  To use these programs all you need is internet access. For schools like mine, Wi-Fi and a strong BYOT policy make using the programs a real possibility.

Technology is a tool that can make the world a much smaller place.  Teachers can use Skype for a videoconference or virtual field trip.  Twitter can be used to disseminate information quickly via a simple tweet.  It can also be used for a TweetChat allowing students to chat in real time and can later be put into a Storify story to be easily read.  At ISTE2014, I used twitter to communicate to followers and plan a lot of my conference activity.  As a fellow attendee noted, it is much easier to communicate via twitter than email.  It is evident that twitter is the new mode of communication, and teachers not on the platform are really being left behind the technological curve. 

Google has become the mothership for technology storage, apps, and student interaction.  Many of the attendees were Google Certified teachers, or teachers looking to become Google Certified.  Google offers new apps like Book Creator that can be a wonderful tool.  Google Docs is an awesome classroom tool for storage and easy student access and collaboration.  The days of USB drives for obtaining student projects are over.  Using Google Docs means no excuses for a late paper.  As a teacher, I use Google Docs quite a bit and truly have become dependent on it. 

Finally, the conference was a way to contact and communicate with teachers who are all over the tech spectrum.  It allowed for the chance to meet and talk to teachers who can help you incorporate technology in the classroom.  Many of the presenters and attendees were eager to share their knowledge and help with the transition to a tech savvy teacher. The use of hashtags like #ISTE2014 and  #notatiste14 created accessible conversations across multiple platforms that allowed people beyond the conference to learn from ISTE2014 as well.

These are just a few of the EdTech ideas that were discussed at ISTE2014 that I thought were of great value.  What technology would you incorporate into your classroom or urge your colleagues to use?

For more information on ISTE 2014

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