ISTE History: Through the Changing Eyes of a Third Grader Turned Let’s Say Thirty Something

“First” ISTE Conference: I enjoyed my “first” ISTE conference this week in San Diego, CA!  It was exciting for me on a few levels.  I have followed the works of many of the presenters that I attended for several years now, so hearing them present in person was fun, but I’ll leave that for part II.  As I reflect, it is decidedly at a much more personal level that ISTE was unexpectedly important to me.  Perhaps the story of my “first” ISTE conference in 2012 began back in the 1980’s as a third grade girl eagerly anticipating a trip over the mountain passes from Idaho to Oregon to visit her dad who dedicated summers to earning a Masters in Computer Science in Eugene, OR.  Yes, this was back before online learning was an option. 

I have been exposed to Ed Tech my whole life and probably interested in it roughly since birth, but for whatever reasons only in more recent years discovered how much myself.  It was an honor to attend with my dad, an excellent computer science/math teacher at the high school level.  The founder of ISTE, Dave Moursund, was his advisor and instructor in Eugene, OR when I was a just a kid back in the 80’s.   I recall hearing about a man who expected excellence of his students and received respect from my father.  As we sat together during some of the keynotes, the history of ISTE and its leaders unexpectedly became of interest to me.  A new human dimension was added to the organization as we discussed the changes of the organization and educational technology in general.

I should take a step back and clarify.  This is not the only time I have been to an ISTE conference with my dad; it’s the only time I have attended.  My dad presented a couple times, once on Skype in Washington DC in 2009 and a presentation entitled,Think Wireless, in 2001 in Chicago, IL.  The 2001 date is memorable because it was the year I met him in Chicago embracing my 4 month old daughter.  I was honestly more interested in showing him his first granddaughter than in hearing about his presentation.  There also may have been years in my youth in which I tagged along, but if I did shopping and the big city filled my thoughts more than what my geeky father was doing at this crazy convention.  I also recall hearing many enthusiastic stories from both of my parents of where Ed Tech was headed in more recent years after their attendance.  Somehow I just didn’t get it until this year.  And now it has connected in several ways for me: from the speakers I’ve heard my father “introduce” me to over the years— Annette Lamb and Kathy Schrock for example, to the history of the organization, to the concept that technology is NOT the emphasis of Ed Tech; it is fundamentally about education and people (or at least that is how I will choose to see it).

ISTE/NECC History: I’m not generally a history buff, but when connections are made, it comes alive.  My dad said he felt like ISTE has exponentially grown over the years. This year’s ISTE history page shows his perceptions are right on.  In 2011, there were 355 concurrent sessions while in 1979 (then called NECC) 32 sessions ran.  Comparing conference themes as they have changed and remained the same also brings up lively conversations. Add a comparison of the exhibitors and this info. would make an interesting infographic!  This history triggers my interest to know what changes the speakers, such as Lamb, November, Richardson,  Schrock, and Warlick, whom I particularly liked and listened to during the conference have experienced. What advice would they give to a “newcomer” such as myself?

And my story doesn’t end quite yet:  My daughter and mother also attended the exhibits.  If you were there, you may have seen them walking around in yellow Turning Technologies capes.  It’s hard to say if my kiddo was more interested in Ed Tech or shopping as I was at her age, but she did give up a day at Sea World for browsing the exhibit hall.

Seemingly random but connected ending thought of a let’s say thirty something year old:  This is not verbatim, but I overheard two ladies presumably walking to a conference session on augmented reality.  One lady animatedly expressed, “I AM augmented reality.  I augment my student’s reality everyday with who I AM as an educator.”  Yes, it’s about the people.  More specifically, it’s about the educators and learners, and the definitions hopefully blur as we move forward.  Moving forward with the technology is exciting, but the history and being grounded in the people—students/educators, keeps it real and in my case in the family.   


The Learning Network: Teaching and Learning with The New York Times Teacher Resource

The Learning Network: Teaching and Learning with The New York Times has tons of valuable resources and activities for 7th-12th grade teachers. It contains a blog that invites students 13 and older to contribute comments about the news.  (Here’s their commenting FAQ page.) There are lessons based on content from The New York Times that can be adapted and are geared toward many content areas.  Students can take news quizzes and more.  Here’s a taste from my brief exploration today.

I explored the technology section and enjoyed the first post entitled, ‘The Secrets It Holds’: Discovering the Lively Morgue and Other Archives.  It contains an interesting short video about the The Lively Morgue which left me wanting to explore this link to the The Lively Morgue Times Tumbler.  I was not disappointed, and you will not be either if you enjoy captivating pictures that captured moments of everyday life from the past. Today’s highlighted picture of a bucking bronco in Montana in 1929 brought a smile to my face as I imagined one of my Montana relatives taking a ride.  Grandma, is that you?  Click on the picture and you’re in for another treat.  Don’t take my word for it, browse other wonderful pictures such as this one, read, and learn.  

This same post from The Learning Network, ‘The Secrets It Holds’: Discovering the Lively Morgue and Other Archives, has some excellent questions and could be used as a springboard for an assignment or discussion.  Here are a few of the questions from this post: “Why do you think some people feel a stronger connection to a physical object like a book or photograph than the same data presented on a screen? As the photo editor Darcy Eveleigh says, ‘You can’t touch digital. It’s easier to look at, faster to look at, but it feels in a weird way like this [the morgue] is a little more permanent than digital.’ Would you agree? “

The post also contains suggested activities and links to additional worthwhile readings!  These could easily be embedded in an engaging unit that probes students to consider issues of our times revolving around research, libraries, books, and the past and future.  These concepts are things I’ve been thinking about over the past few years, and they relate to several articles written on this blog, including my post What’s a Book?  Is This a Book?  (Rereading this post written about a year ago made me think how much our conversations on this topic have changed since then, yet how the essence is the same.)  It also relates to a podcast interview I listened to today with Mark Bauerlein and Steve Hargadon on Ed Tech Live

What is described here is only ONE post on a rich site. It is worth checking out and RSS feeding like I did. Check out other educational sites here.  Happy exploring!


Digital Citizenship, Information Literacy, and Digital Literacies Conversations Begin Today

With the explosion of information available to us at our fingertips and even by voice command, it is paramount that we as educators begin to understand information literacy, media literacies and related concepts of digital citizenship.  These three terms can lead down many paths of conversation.  For a beginning focus in this post, I'll ask can we assign a topic to our elementary-high school students and expect that they can find credible, reliable sources and know how to cite them? Will students be safe as they explore sites at school and home?  When do these skills get taught, and when do conversations about digital citizenship begin?  Is around junior high too late?  Whose responsibility is it to teach these skills and to instigate these conversations?  Perhaps all educators (including administrators and parents in this definition) need to learn and be involved in helping our children navigate informational literacy, media literacies, and concepts of digital citizenship.

Begin Exploring Digital Citizenship at Digital ID
I'm still in the beginning stages of pulling together some sources to help my own kid understand these topics and to continue educating myself.  Digital ID is a great place to go to begin understanding digital citizenship (a part of which relates to information literacy).  It is a wiki created by Gail Desler and Natalie Bernasconi.  Take your time, explore it and use it with your students!  Watch this Ed Tech Talk where Gail and Natalie discuss the wiki site and more.

This interactive graphic by Online PhD spurred on this post and offers some tips for using Google search.  But don't forget to go beyond Google.  Some of the links in the Information Literacy Tools section on our web 2.0 tools page offer some ways of doing so for various age groups.  Don't miss our young guest blogger's post, The Teachers Should See This: Research and Expensive Food.  These are a few ways to begin to understand informational literacy.

How do these concepts of information literacy, media literacies, and digital citizenship connect?  Perhaps in large ways as our students remix and become producers of knowledge, not only consumers of it. As educators, we can help them do this in responsible ways.  We can encourage connections to the everyday pop culture, but focus on extensions beyond into academic learning.  Doug Belshaw gave an interesting TEDxTalk entitled, The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies, that offers another view of this changing landscape as well as more food for thought.

Join us in developing these skills and having these important conversations at all levels in education.