More Than 40 New Things We Saw at ISTE 2018

ISTE 2018 offered a chance to learn more about promising technologies, new technology trends, and leadership initiatives

Creativity, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital competencies were just a few of the many trends at ISTE 2018.

This year’s conference was one of the largest, with packed sessions and presentations, and 18,540 attendees–a new attendee record.

It was nearly impossible to see and attend everything the conference had to offer, and many educators who couldn’t attend followed keynotes with the #ISTE18 hashtag (they also threw in a #NotAtISTE tag for good measure).

We’ve rounded up some of the biggest trends, news, and tools to help you organize your post-ISTE thoughts.

1. During the conference, ISTE opened enrollment for ISTE U, an online professional learning hub for teachers and leaders to build critical skills for teaching and learning in a digital world. Each course is built on solid instructional design principles. Ongoing instructional support is a critical component of ISTE U, and each course includes either a virtual coach or live facilitator. ISTE partnered with D2L to use the BrightSpace learning management system (LMS) to power ISTE U.

2. AI made a leap from theoretical classroom tool to a tool with real potential for learning. ISTE 2018 sessions explored practical classroom applications of AI, how AI can engage students, and how some aspects of the traditional classroom will be automated and changed by AI.


Is your district on track with these classroom tech trends?

A new survey outlines some of the top tech trends in schools and districts

Although they’re touted as game-changers for classroom learning, virtual reality and augmented reality have yet to catch on in schools, according to a new survey of 1,500 teachers.

The Kahoot! tech trends survey reveals that just 11 percent of surveyed teachers said virtual reality and augmented reality are emerging trends in their school or district.

Part of the reason for such low adoption could be lack of equipment or resources–including financial resources–to implement new technologies. In fact, the biggest obstacle for teachers hoping to implement technology is a lack of funding. Half of teachers surveyed say they struggle with obtaining technology-related funding.

Other challenges include lack of training to understand or adopt new technology, implementing technology for the sake of technology, and a disconnect between technologies and curriculum standards.


Great podcast episodes for students and teachers

Find stories that will captivate you and your students, plus tips on how to get started

There are lots of teachers who love listening to podcasts and want to share that passion with their students. But many aren’t sure how to justify using podcasts in the classroom. That’s how I got started. I wanted to use Serial as a primary text for at least a few weeks, but I wasn’t sure how it would fit in with Common Core or how it might affect my students’ reading habits. It turned out that, for a variety of reasons, Serial worked better than most texts I’ve assigned. Plus, I learned that using podcasts with transcripts actually increases literacy skills and vocabulary acquisition.

Some teachers come at podcasts from a different need. They want to mix it up in their classrooms or want their students to practice listening skills. With just a little preparation, playing a podcast in class is as simple as hitting a few buttons.

I asked my fellow educators for their favorite episodes, considered some student-appropriate episodes that my high school classes have really liked, and came up with a small but solid list of must-listens. It’s organized into two categories: podcast episodes that can be shared with students in grades 9-12, and episodes teachers might find personally interesting (but aren’t for students). One important note: The student recommendations here are for teens and up since some of the themes are too mature for younger students. (You can find ideas for younger students here.)

4 podcast episodes students will love

Serial, Season 1, Episode 1, “The Alibi” | Transcript
Episode description: Introducing the essential details and providing real interviews with the main characters, Sarah Koenig reports on a true story from Woodlawn High School in Baltimore. A popular high school girl disappeared after school one day, and six weeks later detectives arrested her ex-boyfriend for her murder. He says he’s innocent, but his former friend with a penchant for lying gives the police a semi-believable eyewitness account, and another girl offers semi-believable alibi testimony. Somebody is definitely lying–but who?

The reasoning: Let this be your starting point. In all my years of teaching, no text has offered a better opportunity for students to practice their analytical skills. Students willingly and excitedly assess the evidence, judge the characters, dissect the testimonies, and break down exactly how Koenig crafted a story that engaged more listeners than any podcast in history. My wife and I published lesson plans shortly after this season finished, and we get a lot of encouraging feedback regarding student engagement, particularly in classes that are typically low-performing.

This American Life, Episode #538, “Is This Working?” | Transcript
Episode description: It’s an age-old question with no agreed-upon answer: What should teachers do with misbehaving kids? Using compelling interviews with teachers, a parent, and a child, this episode explores the possibility that the most popular punishments actually may harm kids in significant, long-term ways.

The reasoning: This episode is great for both teachers and students. They really like the story, particularly the little boy’s voice. Meanwhile, it gives me a great opportunity to introduce the concepts of classroom discipline and institutional racism while teaching different rhetorical strategies modeled by the narrator.


25 things to try in your classroom next year

Teachers can use the summer to identify and learn about educational approaches or tools they want to use in the next school year

As schools across the country close for summer, teachers are, understandably, breathing a sigh of relief. But the learning doesn’t stop just because students leave classrooms.

Summer is one of the most popular times for teachers to engage in professional learning. Without the daily demands of a classroom full of children, teachers can focus on instructional approaches they’d like to strengthen or can experiment with different digital resources or tools.

Do you want to learn more about coding so you can use it in your lessons in the fall? Want to become more confident applying STEM concepts across the curriculum? Or maybe you want to learn how to leverage social media to grow your network.

If you’re searching for something to invigorate your classroom in the fall, check out these new teaching tools and methods–you might find something you can’t wait to use in your classroom.

Professional Learning

1. Professional learning networks: Teacher communities are a great way to combine social interaction and knowledge-sharing, and this list offers some nice options for educators looking to grow their professional learning network (PLN). In fact, teachers who are eager to learn about new classroom strategies or resources can rely on their PLN to offer advice and best practices before the new school year starts.

2. Classroom management practices: The dunce cap, a ruler on the knuckles, kneeling on rice: Modern teachers wouldn’t think of using these methods to correct students’ behavior. But for all the progress that schools have made in understanding and implementing effective discipline, teachers can still fall into bad habits that sabotage their own efforts to stay in command.


Calling all leaders: Hope is not a strategy

5 steps to help you harness the hopes and dreams of students and staff

Hope is critical to greatness but not the strategy to achieve it. Hope is not wishful thinking—as in “I hope I win the lottery.” It is the core for developing pathways and thinking tactics (strategic planning). Hope is the belief that things can get better and is the foundation upon which motivation is built. As leaders, we need hopes and dreams and to encourage them for our staff, but we control how to turn hope into action and greatness. How can we do that?

One transformative relationship can change the life of a staff or student, which is why leaders are essential to harness hope and turn that into greatness. Students who are high in hope have greater academic success, stronger friendships, and demonstrate more creativity and better problem-solving. They also have lower levels of depression and anxiety and are less likely to drop out from school. As leaders we tend to focus on academics, but without students present—both physically and cognitively—we can’t teach the academics.

Hope is a critical first step for staff or students to identify goals and develop strategies. Those hopes and goals will turn into motivation through the support of staff and peers. Hope creates active engagement with learning. Learning becomes real, powerful, and useful. This is when hope turns into action.

So how do we harness the hopes and dreams of students and staff?

1. Break down goals (or hopes) into steps.
Goals do not have to be accomplished all at once; instead, visualize goals as steps. This will also give reasons to celebrate small successes along the way and keep motivation high.


5 modern education myths debunked

Education 4.0 can have a profound impact on how instructors teach real-world skills, but these five myths are still holding them back from fully leveraging this new age of instruction

In the industrial setting, Industry 4.0 is a term that analysts use to describe the automation and data exchange that are used in manufacturing technologies, and this involves modern concepts like the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and other innovations. Cumulatively, these technologies are changing the face of manufacturing.

Much like a manufacturing firm needs a flexible production line in order to adapt to changes in demand and customer preferences, education must also be tailor-made in a way that truly prepares students for success. In order to effectively implement Education 4.0, these five myths will have to be debunked:

Myth #1: Students are just “empty vessels.”
During the second industrial revolution, many believed that a student’s brain is similar to a piece of raw material that is assembled from scratch into a perfect product. In fact, the brain was referred to as an empty vessel, a blank slate that teachers poured knowledge into. We assumed that students lacked knowledge, and the teacher filled their brains with knowledge—building the same knowledge structure for all students (i.e., constructivism).

But this isn’t true. Students have prior knowledge that is accumulated differently by each student. Knowledge is not created like an assembly-line product. Students must be encouraged to experiment and take on real-world problem solving to create more knowledge and understanding for themselves and then to reflect on and talk about their activities.


Sneak peak at 3 new product launches at ISTE 2018

From STEAM to coding, exciting new products will engage teachers and students alike

I had the opportunity to get a sneak peak look at some ISTE 2018 vendor launches before the ropes were dropped at the expo.

“The price of paper is cheap but the impact on education is priceless.” –Shai Goitein, chief executive officer, PowerUp

One of the new products being introduced at ISTE 2018 is from Power Up, a U.S. company that is based in Israel. This company has taken paper airplanes out of the realm of spitballs and other classroom shenanigans to a tool that educators can use to provide project-based learning opportunities for students. Imagine being able to teach critical skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration, as well as concepts such as aerodynamics and physics, all while tossing a paper airplane into the wind.

The company’s comprehensive teacher-guided curriculum addresses the ISTE Student Standards of innovative designer, empowered learner, and computational thinker.

As a district administrator, I struggle with the ‘one and done’ style of professional development. We bring in outside professional organizations who are experts in their field to lead professional development (PD) for our initiatives. However, when they leave, we as edtech and curriculum leaders are left with the follow up and support for these initiatives. Engaging the heart and mind of our students is the mantra of the Buck Institute for Education. This project-based learning non-profit organization is changing its delivery platform. In the winter of 2019, they will be introducing hybrid PD programs where educators will have access to virtual coaching, an extensive PBL library, and online courses intended to deepen practice. When I heard this, I actually did the tech director happy dance! Now we will have the support we need in our districts. I see this move into a blended learning model as a positive and productive partnership for school districts. Happy teachers, happy administrators!

Since 2014, OSMO’s addictive interactive iPad and tiles and block programs have been helping teach students how to think critically, collaborate, and problem solve. Their 10 different apps allow teachers to design, customize, and collaborate in an online environment. Their scaffolding programs challenge students who are ready to go to the next step while supporting students who need more support. So how do you make this product more student friendly and classroom ready? By giving the people what they want: an iPad base and case! Having had the opportunity to check out these new accessories, I suspect that they will be a huge success on the expo floor and in classrooms across the country.


4 awesome videos to check out over the summer

These Common Sense Education videos can help educators tap into professional learning and help students self-assess

Videos can be used in many ways in the classroom and in professional learning, and they can greatly benefit students if they’re engaging and thought-provoking.

They’re also valuable tools for educators who wish to access on-demand resources for students, who want to learn more new instructional strategies, or who want to expand their professional learning.

Check out the following four videos for help with your professional learning network (PLN), to supplement lessons about video essays, to help students self-assess, and more. You may want to use these videos with existing lessons next school year, or you may find yourself creating new lessons around the video content.

These videos are supplied by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly.

1. 9 Great Documentaries for High School Classrooms
If you want to get your students’ attention, show them how real-world issues affect people. From bullying and racism to poverty and economics, the topics tackled in documentary movies can open kids’ eyes, encourage critical thinking, and spark great conversations. Better yet, when these films are shown as part of a lesson, we can give students opportunities to better understand and analyze what they’ve seen.


Most teachers say tech tools improve teaching and learning

Tech tools can increase student engagement and intellectual stimulation, teachers say

Eighty-two percent of teachers in a recent survey say they believe tech tools have enhanced teaching and learning, and most say they have access to the tools they want.

The survey from MidAmerica Nazarene University queried 1,000 teachers with a minimum of 5 years in the classroom to gauge the impact tech tools have had on instructional methods and student learning.

On average, teachers say 56 percent of their tools have become tech based, and 80 percent of teachers say they have access to most of the tech tools they want in their classrooms. Those tech tools include interactive whiteboards, student portals, laptops, tablets, learning software, and learning apps.

Private school teachers are 13 percent more likely to have access to tech tools, and teachers in the southwest appear to have the most access to technology.


How can we make personalized learning work?

The answer may be more obvious than you think

Educators around the country are excited about the potential of personalized learning, but before we can make it an everyday reality, we first need to agree on what exactly “personalized learning” means. There are a number of definitions out there. After a thorough review of the literature, I’ve settled on the U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) definition of personalized learning, which asks educators to do three things in order to optimize education for each learner:

  1. Be willing to change the instructional approach
  2. Be willing to change the pace of learning
  3. Work to involve students in the process

This definition serves as a strong foundation for a discussion of the past, present, and future of personalized learning.

Where we were
The first initiative that contains at least an element of the DOE’s definition of personalized learning was in 1898, when the schools in Pueblo, Colorado attempted to allow kids to move ahead at their own pace. Then, in the early 20th century, John Dewey’s Democracy in Education program worked to shift the focus from the “system-first” perspectives of the “factory model” to more child-centered learning.

So we’ve been asking the question, “How do we make learning more personalized?” for 120 years. If you look at those early efforts, they were often abandoned because they were so labor-intensive. Districts couldn’t figure out how to sustain them. With today’s technology, educators have a chance to build and maintain personalized learning initiatives that not only improve the educational experience for students but that are actually sustainable.