in Education, Reflection, Technology

Processing ISTE 2010

It’s been a few days since ISTE 2010 and I’ve had time to step back and reflect on my experiences there.

I was inspired by the educational philosophies and successes of Chris Lehman, Gary Stager, and Jeff Piontek. Harry Rheingold reminded me of the importance of critical thinking, I thought about issues of equity and student achievement during edchat (live), saw some of the successes and challenges experienced by other schools and districts, met some people that I’d only previously interacted with online and shared the world of educational tech integration with a former colleague and fellow educator. But by day 3 (including Saturday and Sunday at the leadership bootcamp and constructing modern knowledge), I’d had enough. I was tired of waiting in line hoping for free seats at the most popular sessions, going to sessions where few new (to me) perspectives were presented, and of listening lots and doing little.

This was my second time at the ISTE summer conference. I participated when it was in Atlanta a few years ago. I found it overwhelming then, and my reaction was similar this time. Sure, it was nice meeting some of the people that I’ve only interacted with on Twitter but professional development in such a setting doesn’t really work for me. I’ve (re)discovered that I hate large crowds, and long lines. (I’m a country island girl at heart.) There were a lot of both at ISTE 2010. Being immersed as I am in twitter, blogs and the world of technology education, I saw or heard little at ISTE that I hadn’t been exposed to before. Sure, there were some new links, some unique wordings, inspiring classroom examples, and some opportunities to see new and/or changed technology, but there was nothing earth shattering. I was reminded of some best practices and of how much more I could be doing, but as “the” instructional tech person at my (K-12) school, I’m already putting enough time and energy into work and am intent on maintaning some balance in my life. So where do I go from here?

I know what my weaknesses are and I should focus on overcoming them. I have many philosophical and pedagogical discussions. There are lots of avenues to engage in discussions virtually. It’s more difficult (though not necessarily impossible) to construct something with someone in the virtual world, especially since I have limited spatial awareness, and little experience with or knowledge of artistic forms. I’d like to take a filming class and refresh my programming skills but I’d prefer to work with a group face to face than virtually. I like intimate gatherings of good friends over parties with lots of casual acquaintances. I’m not the kind who jumps into new things; I first quietly watch from the sidelines and then decide how I’d like to participate. I interact with my PLN, help when I can and ask for help when I need it but I feel a certain distance. The ISTE conference is huge but it doesn’t work for me.

I need to come up with some processes for implementing my beliefs about technology education into my classes and my school. At the core of my beliefs is that there is more than one right way and that the right way depends on our characters and that of the students that we teach. For me to continue to grow as a teacher, I need both self development and curricular/school development. I’ve started this process but there is much to do and I need to be systematic about it. I’m supposed to be vacationing with family in Ottawa over the next few weeks but I’m going to have to carve out some time for work. August, and the new school year, are not that far away.

Final Thoughts

I do not mean to discredit the value of face-to-face conversations. They may lead to deeper engagement and understanding. I just feel that the ISTE conference provides few formal opportunities for discourse, and little time (in free sessions) to engage in hands-on. For this reason, I will remain an irregular participant, but I am sorry to have missed EdubloggerCon from all the twitter updates. I missed it last time too and forgot about it when I signed up for the leadership bootcamp this year. I will definitely keep my eyes on the ISTE conference and won’t rule out attending again but I’m not planning on attending next year. I’m going to explore other conferences that may better meet my needs. I may have gotten more out of ISTE if I’d paid for half day or full day sessions and had more time focused on using a tool. Something to consider for next time. I did bring a friend to ISTE 2010 this year and she got lots of great ideas for use in her (elementary) classroom so ISTE 2011 might be a good choice for you, depending on your goals. For more information on ISTE 2010 and future conferences, see

  1. This was my first attendance to ISTE and I left overwhelmed and a little let down as well. I had expected to be inspired and learn something new each day. Instead it was a lot of reiteration. I realize that this may be because I am so involved in reading blogs, and interacting on Twitter that I had already heard from many presenters. The best part for me was making in person connections with my PLN and having full conversations instead of 140 character conversations. It was nice but even that was overwhelming. I wonder if the conference is better for those newer to education and technology?

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