Sunday, June 30, 2019

ISTE 2019 Trip Report

There was a time when I would have written a blog post every night of ISTE. Apparently I’m getting older or something and that is not a priority for me any more. Be that as it may I got some good stuff at ISTE this year. ISTE is not all about computer science the way CSTA (next week) or SIGCSE are but there is more CS than their used to be. You have to hunt for it a bit though.

Robots were big again this year. It seems like everyone is pushing robots as the silver bullet for teaching CS. I’m not so convinced and most of the robot stuff was aimed at younger students. K-6 or K-8 were big. Lots of people promoting their drag and drop Blockly-like programming tools. If you push you hear about Python and other text based languages.  I didn’t spend much time with robots. I don’t want to build my course around them. If others do that is fine. It’s just not me.

On the other hand I am interested in internet of things and integrating that into some of my courses. Plezmo has some interesting products in that space. I missed them in my walk through the exhibit hall but Alark Joshi, Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of San Francisco, sent me an email suggesting I check them out.  I’ve got a core kit ordered. I plan to use it for some experimentation on my own but also as a way to introduce IoT to my students in several courses. Should make for some good demos. Later I may add it to my curriculum. A lot depends on my experimentation.

Doug Bergman gave a presentation on using Artificial Intelligence in projects using some tools from Amazon Web Services (AWS). Doug demonstrated using these services from Thunkable  This may be the piece that really makes my mobile application development course take off. You can learn more about AWS Educate at this link.

Unity also had a surprisingly big booth at ISTE. They have some free online courses which would be usable in the classroom. If I were to have a game development course I would go there first. As it is I plan to take some coursework myself and see how it might fit in to an existing course or perhaps into a new project course I want to propose at my school.

This relates to something else I found interesting at ISTE. Steve Demo presented on Virtual Reality in education. The Oculus Quest (which I got to try out) is pretty awesome and it is programable using Unity and C#. This combination might be awesome in a course after my Programming Honors or our AP CS A course. First I’ll learn some Unity and then I will look at AR/VR/MR devices to see what is practical in the classroom.

I did talk to someone from the Azure (Microsoft’s cloud offering) at the Microsoft booth. I will follow up to learn more about their options as well.  GitHub is something I really want to bring into my Programming Honors course next year and Microsoft owns GitHub now. GitHub for education will be at CSTA and Mike Zamansky is presenting a session on using GitHub so I’ll be in better shape there after CSTA.

So I enjoyed ISTE and I got some good value out of it. But because ISTE is so large a lot of the CS stuff (and people) get lost. CSTA will be a whole other story. Can’t wait to get there.


Mrs_D said...

Plezmo sounds interesting, but it appears to me the cost is $350 or am I looking at the wrong kit? I agree with you about ISTE. Last year I attended several sessions about Microbit but I felt the sessions were geared toward elementary.

Alfred C Thompson II said...

Plezmo is a bit pricy. That's why I am not jumping into classroom sets.

Almost all of the CS including Micro:Bit, at ISTE does seem to be elementary school grades.

Garth said...

I am diving into Thunkable this semester. I was going to build a course around Android Studio but am finding my 8 gig computers with gen 2 i7 are a bit slow. There is also a lot of "magic occurs here" in the books I am finding.

Unity is great to generate interest in CS and programming. The Oculus is cool but Google cardboard and Android phone is a lot cheaper. For high school a lot can be done just with that.

Garth said...

I am also going to have my Python class tinker with the Lego EV3/Python/Visual Studio Code combo to get some robotics into the course. Not much documentation yet but that is a minor detail. I am switching to VSC for the class Python editor. I like PyScripter and PyCharm but VSC seems to have more versatility. There is a Java extension if I eve decide to dive back into Java.