LIVE@CoSN2024: Exclusive Coverage

The Once and Future ISTE


Dr. Kari Stubbs, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Stages Learning and former ISTE board member, talks past, present, and future ideas for North America’s largest edtech show.

Sometimes the most insightful interactions at events don’t come from keynotes or session panels but from random conversations in a hotel lobby or airport gate. This seems to be the case whenever I bump into Kari Stubbs. In this conversation, which was reconstructed in a Zoom recording this week, we run the gamut—from post-pandemic hybrid event models to ramifications of the ISTE-ASCD merger, to AI noise, to new ways to better balance industry involvement with instructional inspiration. Click below to listen in and scroll through some of the edited highlights. You can read and see more about her ISTE experiences on LinkedIn.

Her ISTE highlight:

All of our teams need some elevated care right now—kind of the long tail of those emotions coming out of the pandemic. We have continued teacher resignations and ed leader resignations. And then for our business partners in the education space, we also have an elevated need for team care. Our panel looked at female leadership as a potential solution for making that happen. And it was a phenomenal conversation. I don’t know that I’ve ever been a part of a panel that struck a nerve quite as deeply as this one.

On the ISTE/ASCD merger:

I had the very enormous privilege and honor of serving on ISTE’s board for six years. So I came to this event really curious about the ASCD merger. I was curious how it was going to be messaged to the crowd. I made sure I went to the opening main stage event and I prioritized reconnecting with my fellow board colleagues to kind of peek behind the curtain. The one big takeaway for me is—this is a BIG merger <laugh>. I have some optimism about the merger. I have some question marks about the merger. I don’t know that I left with as many answers as maybe I was hoping I would get.

On ways the event could evolve:

We’re trying to bring fresh ideas to teachers. We’re trying to entice the admins that have purse strings to buy stuff because the conference can’t be put on if the exhibitors don’t sell stuff. It’s a vicious circle. So I left this show thinking it feels noisy…I know in the past ISTE has played with and continues to iterate on the model of having smaller, separate, topic-specific events—like a content creation type of event and a leadership event—but they historically have been at different times of the year. 

I’m curious if in two or three years there are some sort of mini-events nestled within the larger event. They all happen in the same city, but they are somewhat concurrent and folks can focus on their lane while we all still go to the same parties. I just think the models going to have to be more pliable than it’s been. I think it needs to change further and I think it needs to evolve further.

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