Reflections | #ISTE17

I was fortunate to attend ISTE17 this year, and especially neat, was attending with a few others from Northeast Ohio. Ken, Sean, Mike, and Sarah were all in attendance, and we met up several times for dinner, sessions, and continued the conversation online via Twitter.

Traveling with a team adds value to the conference, because you can instantly talk over an idea with others that you know, and are nearby, and troubleshoot or brainstorm implementation stuff.

This year’s ISTE was in San Antonio, and temperatures were in the high 80s the whole time, with some rain to cool things off once in a while. Ken, Sean, and I found breakfast at Denny’s every morning – located conveniently between our hotel and the conference center. We tried to make the sour faced manager smile, and finally managed on day three!

Day 1 – Sunday

I attended pre-sessions on Sunday, after having arrived later on Saturday than planned (where I missed some other pre-conference sessions due to crew working hours regulations by United).

The first session of the day was about leadership, and refreshing the ISTE Standards for Administrators. Very insightful, and I took plenty away in terms of what school leadership means to others (was at a table with an Australian), and how other countries view the US. It was especially interesting to learn how simple terms and vocab can confuse the issue across borders.

“Leadership is an output, not a role.” – Mark Sparvell

I then spent some time learning about getting a resources ISTE aligned and approved – something for another time, perhaps.

Next was the Curiosity Door with Adam Bellow, which was pretty good. A nice intro for those that have never attended ISTE before, and a way to set the tone of the conference. After that we dropped off our gear back at the hotel, and headed back to the keynote with Jad Abumrad from NPR’s RadioLab. (if you haven’t listened to the show, you should consider it…)

The keynote was amazing. Many didn’t care for it, but since I listen to the show, it made a lot of sense, and I was able to connect personally with some of the things he shared. The concept of the gap, or spending time in the German Forest hit home – we all have dark places that sometimes is a struggle to get out of.

We did dinner at Boudro’s (🍸🍸🍸🍸 / 4), and added Mike and Eric and Sarah (in addition to Sean and Ken). We thoroughly enjoyed the prickly pear margaritas, table side guacamole, and shrimp & grits. We passed out around 9:30 PM… (turns out Ken and I are perfect roommates!)

Day 2 – Monday

Monday morning I spent time in a game maker workshop, where we created a game with our table, working through various constraints, but developing objectives, gameplay, rules, a game board, etc. Little time was left over for play testing (we could have used more), but the end result left me wanting more, and will continue to stew on the idea of creating games for review, projects, etc.

Next up was Adobe Spark – an amazing, free, tool to create pretty graphics. Enough said! Start playing with it today. The below took less than a minute to make.

I spent some time walking through the expo hall, too. The area is so immense, and almost difficult to navigate. Many vendors have flashy booths, but not much substance. Many vendors have the exact same thing – especially display boards like the Jamboard.

Many have gadgets and gizmos, but nothing to go deeper than that, like a well-developed curriculum and support structures.

Around lunch I spent some time with David Jakes talking about spaces and design of learning spaces, for learning. He always delivers. He knows his stuff. A highly valuable session!

I finished out the afternoon with getting myself certified on teaching the Fundamentals courses from Code.org – several great hands on activities to teach the basics for courses 1-4, and how to think computationally. I met some Swedes there, too! Two ladies from north of where I grew up.

In Sweden, computer science is to be adopted as part of the K-12 curriculum in 2020. They were on a mission to learn how!

I got to code my binary bracelet (see below), too! Cool!

Dinner Monday night was an Uber ride away, at La Fonda on Main (🌮🌮🌮🌮 / 4). Some of the best tacos I’ve ever had (duck tacos), and not as crowded as the Riverwalk, with it’s dirty river…

TACOS DE PATO
Slow-roasted shredded duck tacos, handmade corn tortillas, guajillo salsa and spinach, mango and avocado salad.

Day 3 – Tuesday

Time to go home! But first, more vendors (back to Adobe to chat Spark and how to implement, ClassLink for single sign-on solution, and a few others. I circled the Google booth, but not much new, and too many fangirls and fanboys.

Same at the Microsoft booth, where I had hoped to learn more about OneNote. I did noodle around a bit with a Surface 4 notebook, using the stylus. It was nice. Especially taking freehand notes, circling things. (even though my MacBook Pro is amazing!)

I checked out a session on short-cycle evaluations of edtech which was very helpful. The last session before heading to the airport was a tech toolbelt session that was really well done, by Chris Atkinson.

Lots of learning. Lots to think about. Lots to do. Onward!