It’s been almost two weeks since I boarded the plane for my first visit to San Antonio and my third trip to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference. Two weeks and I’m still trying to unpack – both figuratively and literally. Since I don’t feel like dealing with the suitcase still sitting on my bedroom floor or the bag of swag in my office, I thought it might be helpful to try to unpack some of my key takeaways from the conference. I don’t know about you, but I love conferences. They are my chance to explore new tech, hear inspirational stories, and connect with amazing people. ISTE 2017 did not disappoint. Let’s role the highlight reel.
I’ll admit, I spent a good chunk of my time on the Expo floor – no, I was not just there for the swag. (However, that is why literal unpacking is taking forever!) I was there to play and learn. There were so many new and old favorite tools to explore. Here a few of my most favorites.
Flipgrid – I’m a little late to the Flipgrid party but excited to join. Not sure why I have not been using this one yet. Flipgrid allows you to easily create video discussion communities. I love the potential of this tool for creating community and learner engagement. The past two semesters I taught an online undergraduate class. My biggest complaint about that course was that I didn’t really get to know my students. I see Flipgrid as the tool to help me fix that problem. I’m also looking forward to using it as part of my overall professional development strategies for the NIU STEAM Works PD program for the 2017-2018 school year.
UL Xplorelab – UL is joining the STEM education game and creating some amazing looking, free modules and simulations. In their booth, they showcased their portable electrical power module. In this module, middle school students use inquiry to explore battery power and the concept of thermal runaway. The modules includes an interactive video, a testing simulation, classroom experiments and challenges. Very well done. I’m looking forward to the next module on fire safety.
Adobe – I have always been a big fan of the Adobe tools. As a professional photographer, Photoshop was my go-to editing software. Over the past couple of years, I have fallen in love with their new suite of free Adobe Spark apps. Adobe Spark has become my favorite tool for digital storytelling. So, needless to say, I had to stop by the Adobe booth to gush a bit. While there I was able to catch Rob Schwartz‘s presentation, Building a Creative Culture. It was packed full of ideas, resources, and inspiration for bringing out the creativity in your students.
There were way too many to discuss here but I do want to give a shout out to a few of the other exhibitors where I founds great resources and even better conversations.
- BirdBrain Technologies – Robotics. (Bought my first Hummingbird Kit. Yay!)
- STEMJobs – Free and subscription based resources, including a free STEM Type Quiz, for helping students find their STEM career path.
- IPevo – Great source for easy to use, affordable tech for the classroom. They have been a longtime supporter of Edcamp Northern Illinois. It was great to connect with them on the expo floor.
- Symbaloo – An e-hoarder’s dream! Easy, visual way to organize all your links. I’ve been using it for a while but Symbaloo is adding on to their learning paths features.
- Girls Who Code – Founder Reshma Saujani was the final keynote. She was so inspiring. I’m going to encourage my 17 year old HS senior to start a club in her school.
- Classcraft – They were showing off some new, powerful features for gamifying your classroom.
Speaking of Gamification… I had the pleasure of presenting with the amazing Kristi Sutter on Hot Tips for Using Games in the Classroom.
We had a great crowd and it was a lot of fun. We created a Padlet filled with Games and Gamification tools for our attendees. It is open so feel free to add your favorites!
Overall, ISTE was amazing! I haven’t even mentioned all of the incredible educators. It is always great to see some of my higher ed colleagues from across the state. Not to mention all of the new educators I added to my PLN. I even had a few fan girl moments as I met educator rock stars, Kathy Schrock, Vicki Davis, and Scott McLeod. AMAZING!
Well, now that I have started to unpack the ideas in my head, it might be time to sort through that suitcase. I know that as I start going through all of the hand outs and business cards, more ideas might shake loose and thoughts unfold. As they detangle, I’ll be sure to share.
Thank you everyone at ISTE for such an amazing week of PD, PLN, and EdTech! Can’t wait until Chicago next year!
Were you at ISTE this year or did your follow the #s? Share your thoughts, ideas, and favorite finds. I’d love to hear about what you learned.
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