ISTE is huge. I mean really huge. There are something like 20,000 people here in Philadelphia. There are a lot people here I want to see and talk to. I was able to connect with a bunch of them on Monday. Very lucky in some cases and we happened to bump into each other. Others I sought out and still others tend to be interested in the same things I am.
The exhibit hall is also huge. It is, depending on your point of view, the worst thing about ISTE or the best thing. There are a lot of people who get paid to speak about education and technology who will tell you the exhibit hall is too commercial. and down right evil. And there are a lot of others who will agree with them. Other people see the exhibit hall as a place to learn about new technology and learn how to use it to teach better. I lean towards the latter. Yes, there are companies who are just interested in making a buck and others who are out to control education whether their products work or not. But I believe that most people in the exhibit hall honestly believe they are offering tools that will help make education better. Some of them may even be right!
I tried to get into a session on educational use of Minecraft. The line was huge and there were easily twice as many people as could possibly be allowed into the room. Needless to say I didn’t get in. I got a brief demo of it at the Microsoft booth but I still don’t “get it.” There are other sessions this week and maybe one of them will make it clear to me.
Also at the Microsoft booth I learned how to create a Sway. “Sway is an app for expressing your ideas in an entirely new way, across your devices.” It looks like it may be a more interesting way for students to share information. And maybe for me as well.
I also learned about a new student response system. I’ll blog more about that after a) it is officially released and b) I have a chance to try it out. I am hopeful it will make my classes more interactive.
Beyond that I am excited about all the robots and 3D printers on display in playgrounds (being demonstrated by teachers) and on the exhibit floor. My wife and I picked up a pair of Ozobots and a Finch robot that she will use in her school. OK one of the Ozobots will probably run around my desk in the fall. A lot of people seem to be using robots to help teach programming these days. (Note I list a lot of educational robots elsewhere on my blog)
The Maker movement is alive and well at ISTE. Lots of playground and poster sessions. Lots of 3D printers as I said. Most of the 3D printer companies seem to be developing curriculum materials as well. The authors of Makerbot’s curriculum guide are at ISTE trying to talk to teachers about how they are using 3D printers so they can improve the book for the next version. I find their people very friendly and very willing to help teachers BTW.
Tuesday I have some more sessions I want to attend. And I hope to talk to more people. The one on one conversations are often as educational as sessions. And I only made it about a third of the way through the exhibit hall today. So lots to see and learn.