June 27, 2011

ISTE 2011 – Day Two

Posted by Dr. Laura Guertin

Day 2 at ISTE 2011 – the first full day of the conference with a range of talks and posters and workshops. Instead of reporting on all the “technical” things I learned today, I think I had some bigger takeaways from the day (note that my day started with Sara Neville presenting her poster from 8-10AM – and she was a superstar!).

What I learned at Day 2 of ISTE 2011

  • Teachers like iPads. At my science conferences, I have seen my colleagues very hesitant to plunge into using an iPad for taking notes and doing work. It seems that K-12 teachers wouldn’t dare leave home without it! I have seen many, many teachers using multiple apps and functions of the iPad – they are clearly comfortable with the technology.
  • Teachers like giveaways/swag. The exhibit hall is full of swag! But then again, who doesn’t like the free t-shirts, canvas bags, pens, flash drives, flashcards…
  • It’s all about the QR codes. I have never seen so many QR codes at a conference. Teachers are using their iPads to take photos of QR codes at posters, in the exhibit hall, and even wearing QR codes on the backs of t-shirts. Not sure how I feel about QR codes on t-shirts…
  • Teachers love to Tweet. I knew there were several PLNs on Twitter, such as #edchat. But trying to follow the conference chat on twitter with #ISTE11 is too much. And teachers are getting their students to tweet, too! (more to come in a future post…)

The exhibit hall is immense and overwhelming. One reason I was overwhelmed is because there must have been 20 different venders selling the same product. It also seems that most of these products perform functions that could be done “in the cloud” or with other freeware. I think/hope that teachers realize commercial products are not necessary for all classroom tasks (think Google).

As I spent most of my day at posters and in the exhibit hall, I was not able to attend many talks. But when it comes to the talks and the posters, I was generally disappointed at the quality of the titles, and the lack of accuracy in what the title indicated the session would be about. For example, one session I attended today has the phrase “using social media” in the title. But the only “social media” in the session was a discussion of students creating websites. So why not just say “websites” in the title? I actually do an assignment with my undergraduate students in my honors research methods course where we talk about what makes a good title. I hope all conference presenters are more thoughtful with the content of the title, and have the title be more meaningful instead of broad and cute.

Now I have to say, I have taught workshops for in-service teachers in the past, and I have found all of them to be positive and passionate, even in the most challenging of classroom settings. This is so true, even here at ISTE 2011. Every teacher has been kind, excited, eager to learn, and eager to share. I have heard nothing negative from anyone at this conference, not even on Twitter!

Who knew that at a technology conference of close to 13,000 people, I could learn more about teachers and their comfort level with/use of technology! (and, I picked up a few teaching tips here and there….)  I wonder what I will learn tomorrow.