June 29, 2011

ISTE 2011 – Day Four

Posted by Dr. Laura Guertin

Day Four, the final day of ISTE 2011.  The conference still had session rooms with standing-room only and energizing talks.  Although I wish there were more days and more sessions, at this point, I don’t think I can take in any more information.  Time to sit down and process what I have learned!

I started the day in a session on ePortfolios.  I have two online portfolios, with this entry in my blog for my Teaching with Technology Portfolio.  And the session did emphasize that people can have more than portfolio, as different portfolios can be written for different purposes for different audiences.  For education, an ePortfolio can have multiple purposes, such as learning/processing/planning, marketing/showcase, and assessment/accountability.  The idea is to have students create a positive digital identity (I like how the speaker said that students need to think about their digital tattoo, the information about them that goes online that never goes away).  Google has all the components for students to have in an ePortfolio – Google Docs for documents, Picassa for images, Blogger for reflection, and Google Sites to pull everything together.  No longer should graduates be bringing CD’s to job interviews with their portfolio – now, graduates are bringing their iPads with the electronic version!  I will definitely have students create ePortfolios in one of my courses this fall, and I’ll refer back to this site filled with resources (site 1).

I traveled through the Exhibit Hall one final time and sat through two sessions at the Adobe booth.  I just purchased InDesign, and I look forward to exploring the Adobe Education site for more tutorials and information (I know I’ll get more off their website than through the rushed sessions in the booth that went off topic too often).

I also went to a session titled “Kindle: Beyond the Printed Page.”  The panel, led by Amazon, presented some impressive information and stories of Kindle use.  I had heard that back on June 21, 2010, Amazon reached the point where they were selling more Kindle books than hardcover books.  I didn’t know that on May 29 of this year (2011), Kindle books were now outselling all print books on Amazon.com.  Certainly, Kindles can hold several hundreds (thousands?) of books, eliminating heavy backpacks and reducing the volume of space needed in school lockers.  Other facts I learned include:

  • The built-in dictionary function on the Kindle allows for “on the spot” literacy, where students can look up a word right away.
  • Any book published before 1923 is available for free.
  • PDF, doc files, and jpgs can be emailed to the Kindle.
  • A Kindle keeps the reading level of an individual student “secret.”
  • Pinellas County Schools in Florida give all students (3,108) Kindles to promote equity across the school. They encourage that schools provide cases when they distribute the Kindles to students, and schools should not underestimate how long it will take to register and load books onto 3,000 Kindles!
  • Bigfork High School in Montana has the students engage in a live Twitter discussion while reading a book on the Kindle.
  • Fulton County in Milton, Georgia, found that students were recommending Kindle books to other students, and that the Kindles worked very well when a substitute teacher had to come in to cover a class.
  • Other innovative uses of the Kindle included using the web browser function to take quizzes and post information online.
  • Time needs to be made for teacher professional development when diving in and using Kindles.

Another website I need to check out:  http://www.amazon.com/kindle/education/    I look forward to sharing with them what we have been doing in the honors program Literary Launch with our Kindles (see our YouTube video that describes the honors students using the Kindles)!

And one final note of caution for myself…. I heard many great talks that were “cool ideas” and “best practices.”  But as a pedagogical researcher, I’m always looking for the assessment piece.  Just because a student says he/she liked the [insert tech toy here] and self-reports an increase in learning, that does not always translate into actual learning.  So I’m bringing home some excellent information, but processing it with caution.  I do not believe in using technology just to use technology, and engaging a student in learning does not always translate to actual learning.  Definitely need to think more on this….