Keynote: STEM should include arts education

Piontek said educators must adapt to students' cultures and desire to be connected through technology.
Piontek said educators must adapt to students' cultures and desire to be connected through technology.

Not only do global learners create global leaders, but the world’s future depends on education focusing on creative and innovative science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning, said ISTE closing keynote speaker Jeff Piontek.

“I think we need to focus on STEAM–science, technology, engineering, arts, and math,” Piontek said to loud applause from the conference attendees. “Arts and creativity are needed in the future.”

Piontek, a Hawaii-based educator, was selected as “the people’s choice keynote” after a five-month modified crowdsourcing project. Piontek was nominated for his attention to excellence and his approach to delivering digital age education to digital age education to digital age students.…Read More

Thoughts from the show floor

Interactive technologies can inspire classrooms.
Interactive technologies can inspire classrooms.

Which came first…the chicken or the egg? I sometimes wonder about that when I’m in the exhibit hall at educational technology conferences like ISTE. When you look around the show floor, I wonder if I’m seeing the latest trends that educators are interested in. Or am I looking at vendor booths offering hardware, software, and services that will become more prevalent in our classrooms in the near future? Maybe it’s a mix of both…or maybe I’m just over-thinking things again as I’m prone to doing.

Not everyone makes it to the exhibit hall because they’re busy in sessions. So like a hash tag watcher on Twitter, they experience the exhibitor booths vicariously through others. When people ask me what the exhibit hall was like, I enjoy answering by mentally playing some of the fun “what if” games.

For example: “What if you had to describe the exhibit hall in one word? What would it be?”…Read More

Google Wave for the K-12 classroom

Google Wave allows for real-time collaboration.
Google Wave allows for real-time collaboration.

Here I am at a session about Google Wave (presenters: Tim Stack, Utah Education Network, Jared Covili, and Mitchell Jorgensen). I have always been intrigued by this technology, but have not yet found a practical use for it.  This session really helped with understanding how Wave works.  To try Wave, visit

The whole concept of Google Wave is live, real-time collaboration.  A user starts a wave.  It can be a simple post, or a more developed idea.  Users that you invite to be a part of the wave can edit your post and can see the editing being done live, right in front of you.  This session had more than 100 people, so you could see many edits happening all at the same time.  In a classroom situation, it would certainly be more manageable.  A cool feature about Wave is the ability to “playback” the edits; starting with the original post, then every edit after that point.  This makes it easy to follow the progression of the edits.  You can also make Waves public, so that anyone may contribute.

In a school setting, I can see the interface being very overwhelming for some students.  The teacher would need to present Wave in a very concise method, as to not confuse the students too much.  I like the ability to see live edits in front of you.  Add in Google chat or Skype, and you are looking at real, live online collaboration.  The session, in general, did not go into anything education-related, but was still very useful.  I would have loved to see a Part 2, getting into practical applications for the classroom.  To get started, I am going search for some public waves and get used to the interface, how it works, and come up with some great ideas for the classroom.…Read More

Words that inspire

The panelists provided unique views on global learning.
The panelists provided unique views on global learning.

Live ISTE Blog – One of my favorite quotes comes from Uncle Ben of Spider-Man fame… “With great power, comes great responsibility.” I’m pretty sure that Stan Lee wasn’t thinking about ISTE keynotes when he penned that well-used phrase. However, that’s the quote that comes to my mind when I consider the impact that a well-thought out, well-delivered keynote can provide.

After years of attending conferences, I’ve seen terrible keynotes, great ones, and everything in between. I’ve seen solo keynote presentations, panel discussions, and a plethora of combinations and permutations there of. After all these years at conferences, I’m still amazed and thrilled when I see a keynote speaker or panel that “sings” with its message. What do I mean by that (because I’m definitely not talking about karaoke)? I mean that I appreciate all the keynotes where the message is clear, powerful, and well-delivered, and it resonates with the audience.

Overall, I really like keynotes. It’s the theory of “Educational Amway” to the highest degree. That’s why I became a tech trainer. Instead of teaching 20-30 kids, I could teach 20-30 teachers at a time who each teach 20-30 students. That theory is magnified with keynotes. When you’re doing a huge keynote presentation, the potential base of students that you can affect is even greater… You might be speaking to 200-300 or 2,000-3,000 or more educators, and that’s why I like keynotes. That said, it’s imperative that organizations really consider who they bring in for keynotes because it’s not just the message, it’s the way that information is delivered. Just like how we encourage our teachers to engage all learners, it’s important that all keynote presenters do the same with the audience.…Read More

ISTE explores global solutions to education reform

Students should connect across the globe, not just across the classroom.
Students should connect across the globe, not just across the classroom, panelists said.

ISTE 2010 opened its third day with a panel discussion featuring global perspectives on how education can best benefit from excellence and innovation.

Karen Cator, director of the U.S. Office of Education Technology in the U.S. Department of Education (ED), former World Bank Vice President Jean-Francois Rischard, student Shaun Koh from Singapore, and Terry Godwaldt, director of programming for the Centre for Global Education in Edmonton, Canada, shared their opinions on how U.S. education, and global education, can improve.

“I see innovation excellence in schools as a confluence of … a new skills agenda, a new learning-teaching-education technology agenda, and a global citizenship agenda,” Rischard said.…Read More

The Hall Show: Interactive classrooms

Projectors can add great value to classroom instruction.
Projectors can add great value to classroom instruction.

Live ISTE Blog – Raise your hand if you know Hall Davidson? Those of you who raised your hand are in the majority (and you’ve probably freaked out everyone sitting near you because they have no clue why you’ve just raised your hand). Hall is well known in educational technology circles. From his work at KOCE to his involvement with the California Student Media Festival to his role as the director of the Discovery Educator Network, Hall is a familiar figure at ed-tech conferences for his entertaining, energetic, and enthusiastic keynotes and spotlight sessions.

People who came to the 8:30 corporate spotlight session expecting to see the “Hall Show” were not disappointed. The session, Interactive Whiteboard Technology: Exploring the Next Generation, witnessed Hall in top form talking about the Epson BrightLink interactive projector (a high-quality ultra-short throw projector with the interactivity built in). Hall showcased the product and discussed the philosophy behind an interactive projector that is not in a closed ecosystem. To say that the audience loved it would be an understatement. The fact that Hall was joined by Karen Green, program specialist of technology and media services in Fullerton School District, and me, was like frosting on a cake… It was good to have, but probably not the main focus.

The Four Seasons Ballroom was packed, and Hall used the BrightLink with Prezi, PowerPoint, Google SketchUp, and a slew of other interactive web sites. I think the best part was when Hall had “volunteers” come up and do a few tricks with the projector… Is it still volunteering when Hall points to you and tells you to come on up?…Read More

Teaching with Moodle: Tips for enhanced course design

Moodle sessions are popular at ed-tech conferences.
Moodle sessions are popular at ed-tech conferences.

Live ISTE Blog – My first ISTE session was Teaching Moodle:Tips for Enhanced Course Design. My goal in attending the session was to get some ideas on how to create better quizzes, better use of blocks, and just creating a strong online experience for Moodle users. Michelle was very informative and knowledgeable about the Moodle Platform, and was well versed in good course design.

Her main concept is creating courses that have a clear, consistent design, and are organized in a way in which your information is easy to find and understand. In thinking about my own course design, I still have many things to learn. The importance of presenting information that is clear to the user is critical. The individual topic descriptions need to be shorter, and I need to start using labels a bit more. I never made the connection that the topic descriptions go into the “jump to” navigation. By thinking of this, my students can easily access a topic that they need to in a much easier manner. When I need to go into more detail, I need to start using the label.

The most important concept that I took away was breaking down the information. Avoid embedding links–use the resource tool to add a link. Avoid putting video directly on the front page, as it delays loading the page, and puts too much on the course start page. And finally, avoid having too much text in one area. Break it apart into smaller sections by using labels, or compose several web pages to break the information apart. One plug-in that was mentioned, that I would like to explore, is the book plug-in. Again, it’s another great way to break large amounts of information apart.…Read More

Making the most of ISTE sessions

Investing time in your presentation will have a big pay-off.
Investing time in your presentation will have a big pay-off.

Live ISTE Blog – Denver…where the air is clean and the atmosphere has us panting after walking a short flight of steps. It’s a great place to host ISTE 2010. My time at the conference began on Sunday morning where I had a wonderful opportunity to co-lead a 3-hour workshop entitled “Beyond Digital Storytelling.”

Presenting with Michelle Bourgeois and Bud Hunt of St. Vrain School District, we led a group of 24 participants through some exercises to help them focus on the story aspect of digital storytelling. From story spines to Five Card Flickr, we wanted our attendees to be creative and tell their stories. I could go blow-by-blow and tell you all the activities and how much fun the participants had, but I want to dig deeper and tell a story about what makes ISTE special for me.

I’ve presented at ISTE since 2005, and it never gets old. In general, I believe that most people are eager to learn, and ISTE attendees even more so, because they are ed-tech leaders in their respective district–they are early adopters and advocates of technology integration. So when you lead or co-lead a session, you get a lot of the cream of the crop, and the potential synergy in the room makes a workshop more than the sum of its parts because it goes beyond just the information. It’s for this reason that I believe speakers have a huge responsibility to be their best. They need to be organized during planning and presentation, and they need to exude enthusiasm. That’s why I think all presenters need to take their role seriously…and that’s different from merely being serious. Some of the best presenters are informative and engaging and fun.…Read More

ISTE focuses on excellence, global education

Today's students will be tomorrow's problem solvers.
Today's students will be tomorrow's problem solvers.

The 31st annual International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE, formerly NECC) conference kicked off in Denver with inspiring and thought-provoking comments from ISTE President Helen Padgett and Jean-Francois Rischard, former vice president of the World Bank and author of High Noon, which discusses alternatives for solving the world’s largest problems.

ISTE 2010 will explore excellence in education, and Denver is a fitting place for that exploration, because teachers are explorers, pioneers, and visionaries, Padgett said.

New teaching methods, and focusing on students’ educational needs, is making a difference in classrooms across the country, and Padgett cited best practices throughout the nation by those who seek to improve schools. And innovation happens not just locally, but globally, as global partnerships and lessons shape U.S. education.…Read More

ISTE 2010 will highlight excellence in education and technology

Jean-Francois Rischard will deliver ISTE's opening keynote.
Jean-Francois Rischard will deliver ISTE's opening keynote.

Thousands of educators, technology coordinators, administrators, and tech industry reps from school districts, government agencies, and companies around the world are expected to attend the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) 31st annual conference and exhibition June 27-30, 2010, at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

Previously known as the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) and presented by ISTE, the annual conference and exhibition is the world’s most comprehensive ed-tech event. Last year’s conference in Washington, D.C. attracted more than 18,000 participants and 435 exhibiting companies.

The theme of ISTE 2010 is “Exploring Excellence” and is held in cooperation with Technology in Education Colorado (TIE).…Read More