3 kinds of ISTE sessions


Not including the more informal networking events, there generally are 3 kinds of ISTE sessions:

  1. Tools, tools, tools! These sessions focus on software, apps, extensions, productivity and efficiency, how-to tips, etc. Little emphasis on learning, heavy emphasis on how to use the tools.
  2. Technology for school replication. These sessions focus on the use of digital technologies to replicate and perpetuate schools’ historical emphases on factual recall and procedural regurgitation, control and compliance, students as passive learners, etc. Behavior modification apps, teacher content transmission tools, flashcard and multiple choice software, student usage monitoring programs, and the like.
  3. Technology for school transformation. These sessions focus on deeper learning, greater student agency, and perhaps real-world, authentic work. Learning technologies tend to be divergent rather than convergent, foster cognitive complexity, and facilitate active, creative student-driven learning.

We need more of #3. Lots more. Right now these sessions are still a significant minority of sessions at ISTE (and most other educational technology conferences).

Which kinds of sessions did you attend? What does that mean for your ability to effectuate change back home?

Which kinds of sessions did you facilitate? What does that mean for your responsibility as a presenter to help others effectuate change back home?

We’re wasting opportunities to move our systems…

7 Responses to “3 kinds of ISTE sessions”

  1. I agree! For the past few years, I always include part of 3 even in my how-to/techie/apps type sessions. Who cares how to technically use the app or resource if you can’t apply it to transforming learning!

  2. Were there any sessions on how to fight the test-and-punish and evaluate-and-punish paradigms that are designed to block #3?

  3. eill you comb through te session guide ad then republish listing only #3s somewhere to help us avoid the others. Saying that I must confess, I do like to hear about new gadgets etc when my brain is on info overload from a thought provoking session or conversation, so maybe they do have their place at ISTE or else were…

  4. Scott, this series triggered a memory and some help for getting at C. Negotiating the Curriculum: Educating for the 21st Century published in 1992 is a continuation and amplification of the ideas presented in Negotiating the Curriculum: A Teacher-Student Partnership published in 1982. Old ideas, of course and Dewey is a little older. Garth Boomer and others share ideas and case studies of how to make IT work in the classroom. The IT being student agency and how students engage, explore and reflect. Once you understand IT then technology is a natural part of the environment.

  5. FWIW, there aren’t as many SUBMISSIONS for C…and there are still folks coming to the conference that need to get over their fear and to Substitution before they can have deep meaningful conversations…ALSO there have been more informal opportunities…more playgrounds, more posters, to have those conversations!

  6. Here’s my problem with #3, which includes “deeper learning, greater student agency, and perhaps real-world, authentic work. ”

    I don’t know what “deeper learning” is. Learning is what it has always been — a combination of various orders of thinking skills to acquire facts and skills and the sense to know when and how to use or not use those facts and skills. It is impacted by interest, relevance, utility and necessity. It does not need technology to be effected. And if it is still within a system of established curriculum, standardized testing and a higher education model which seems to be working (and which parents want their children to continue in) a divergent and disruptive approach seems like so much curmudgeonly narcissism. We should eliminate conferences like ISTE and tear down the entire education system if we believe it doesn’t work. And if it does work, we should reinforce it within the bounds of its successes. The session I went to which asked “should we remove computers from the classroom” concluded with, “yes!” and people applauded because good teaching is good teaching, and, we hope, what might inspire some measure of learning (which is, ultimately, out of our control).

  7. Here’s a description of the topic I presented on:

    Cool Tools Are Fun, But Learning Should Come First

    Presentation Description
    Educators and technologists have been making the case for the transformative power of technology in teaching and learning for decades. However, despite the rhetoric and increasing efforts to integrate technology into the classroom, in many cases the results are insignificant and not yielding the return on education that districts are looking for. This is in part due to some teachers getting caught up in the latest edtech resources and failing to prioritize educational value above all else.

    This session will explore the affordances of technology as well as the importance of shifting away from traditional didactic teaching strategies to methods that fully engage students through authenticity, purpose and inquiry in the learning process. Attendees will discuss sound pedagogical practices and how to leverage technology to provide learning opportunities that don’t otherwise exist.

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