Wow! Is this year’s ISTE conference different or what?
Aside from the fact that the conference is taking place in my home-town of San Diego, I am in a very different place from last year and therefore the conference has been a very different experience. Without further ado, let’s get into the wrap up!
The “Keynote Panel” was honestly pretty disappointing. Although Sir Ken Robinson was hysterical and on-point, this was lost in the over-commercialization and ISTE promo videos. I think ISTE might have forgotten that most of us don’t care so much about ISTE as we do about education, technology and learning… Nevertheless, there were some high-points:
The idea espoused by Sir Ken constantly is the idea that our lives are not linear, they are organic, and our education models need to reflect this. This idea is crucial to moving education forward and out of our current, Industrial Revolution, model of education, in which students are looked at as products needing to be built, rather than seeds which need to grow. For more on this I highly recommend you watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U
Shawn Covell (the lady from Qualcom) brought to light/reminded us of a very important reality: Mobile is the future, actually, mobile is the present. More people have access to a mobile phone today then to clean drinking water and toothbrushes. In the very near future there will be more devices on the mobile network than people on the planet. Mobile is the new, universal platform for communication. She also reminded us, over and over again, that Qualcom is the leader in mobile tech. My takeaway: Mobile is this generation’s Tower of Babel, the trick is to use it to unite humanity for good and not the opposite.
Marc Prensky, author of a number of books, spoke very intelligently about “digital wisdom”, the concept of merging our brains with machine brains. To do this we need to ask a very important question: What do our brains do better and what do machines do better? That was, perhaps, the most eye-opening concept of the whole keynote. Marc presented an answer to the question – which I felt was incomplete (although I am sure he would tell me that his book will answer the question more thoroughly) – teachers can provide empathy and passion, a machine can never do this.
Finally, Blossom – I mean Mayim Bialik – between trying to tell us how TI products shaped her life, was great. She was inspirational as she spoke about the influence of amazing teachers on her life and the importance of breaking down the walls that prevent our students from seeing themselves as they should see themselves. She told us that growing up she, “could not envision a female scientist” and she is glad that she was shown how. Very inspirational indeed.
One final message from Sir Ken: “If you design a system based on standardization and conformity, don’t be surprised if you get it…”
Poster Sessions and Schmoozing
I didn’t have much time to jam through poster sessions after the keynote and between all the hellos from old ISTE friends, but the big take-away that I took was the importance of collaboration in the 21st century classroom. This collaboration must be global as well as local and we must be facilitators as well as guides in this process. This collaboration builds a sense of empathy, sensitivity and develops real-world skills.
I spent much time chatting with people in the lobby, this “relaxed time” was so valuable for processing and assimilating the information that I received during the keynote and poster sessions. This is definitely a lesson that I plan to integrate into my classroom and informal education, rest facilitates creativity.
For more on my travels at ISTE 2012, you should follow me on twitter: @theadamsimon and check back on this blog.