The annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Philadelphia was an amazing event. After my own presentations I had the opportunity to attend a few panels, playgrounds, and peruse the exhibition hall. Tech Education is vibrant, diverse, and this year, pedagogy at the forefront. ISTE is about utilizing technology to create inclusive spaces to transform learning and help every student and teacher succeed.
Here are some highlights from this year’s conference
“Personalized learning pathways empower students to pursue their passions while encouraging them to take more responsibility for their education.” — NESSC
Education As Choose Your Own Adventure – Choice is key helping students learn, dig deep, and apply their understanding. Offering students options by product, tech tool, and process personalizes learning and allows all students to meet the learning targets. Author and educator Matthew Oberrecker states, “when learning is truly personalized, each student has a voice in the learning process. Within this framework lies a core vision for 21st century teaching and learning: a symbiotic relationship between pedagogy, technology, and 21st century skills.” Choice and voice are at the forefront of education whether addressing students or teacher education. Choice boards, badges, non-linear classroom experiences, flipped learning are a few ways to differentiate and personalize learning.
Get App-y – There are so many apps and Chrome Extensions that can help assist our students to be better researchers, writers, and readers. Using a grammar extension like No Red Ink or Grammarly can help our students write more fluid and correctly. Using text to speech extension like Voice Note II can help our struggling readers and writers. Using ad blockers like Mercury Reader can eliminate distractions and leave only text and images for an easy reading of any site. These extensions and apps provide opportunities to support all learners. Assistive Technology Education, Mike Marotta exclaims, “By leveraging the power of this common browser, we can make significant customization to meet the needs of [not only] struggling students [but all our students].”
AR & VR – In my book Personalized Reading I write about augmented reality and virtual reality as an entryway for building background knowledge and expanding world knowledge. Both AR and VR allows you to explore gaming and simulations or virtual environment experiences. Metaverse Augmented Reality, Quiver for Education, Nearpod, CoSpaces and Merge Cube apps like Explorer, Dig, and Mr. Body create immersive experiences. It is not just about providing these experiences, but allowing students and teachers to create and personalize interactive learning. Check out Jen and Brian Cauthers’ resources for all things mixed reality.
Robots – I am so excited for the literacy connections between robots and my ELA class this year. I am actually getting a flock of Finch Robots from Hummingbird Robotics for my classroom in the upcoming school year. There are many robotics companies in the market today but it is the applications and connections to the learning standards that are key. In order to empower our learners as creators, designed, and engineers they will need to learn to code, build, and think outside of the box. Robotics can help us meet these objectives. Robots provide exposure to STEM activities, involving computational thinking and exploring solutions to real-world problems, along with tapping creativity. Sphero, Sphero mini, Ozobot, and Coding Mice are other robots where no coding experience necessary to use these tools.
Digital Citizenship – Richard Culatta, CEO of ISTE, said it best in his passionate plea to #ISTE18 attendees at the opening keynote in Chicago! “Digital citizenship, it turns out, is not a list of ‘don’ts’ but a list of ‘dos’,” Richard Culatta says. “And never has it been more important than it is now.” He returned to this idea in this year’s #ISTE19 since digital citizenship is essential in our world today and must be seamlessly infused it into the instructional day. BrainPOP, Common Sense Education and the Digital Driver’s License provide digital citizenship curriculum to empower students to create their own digital content to show how they’ve internalized the themes and importance of digital citizenship including the opportunity to create their own movies, text- and block-based coding projects, and personalized concept maps.