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More Trends From 2016 International Tech Conference

July 1, 2016

Lance Wilhelm

Lance Wilhelm, Director of Technology Director at Heartland AEA, is blogging about the 2016 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference and Expo. Follow along with Lance while he brings you news, trends and analysis!



☆ Many technology-related trends are evident in education, some that have been in the works for several years (such as social media, project-based learning, learning management systems and online assessments), and some that are really starting to take off. These trends become pretty apparent as you look at the titles of the sessions, as well as what is for sale in the vendor area. Among the trends that are really hitting their stride this year:

  • Virtual reality

  • Student creativity, including makerspaces, 3D printing, etc.

  • Touchscreens (and devices that turn TVs into touchscreens)

  • Digital security

  • Connecting your classroom globally

  • Personalized/customized learning

☆ One of the more thought-provoking sessions I attended was Jason Ohler’s Five Trends That Bend. The first big trend he talks about is “big data.” As we know, companies are collecting scary amounts of info about each of us and using them to their advantage. That’s the tradeoff we make for living in a digital world and the convenience of getting things so readily online. But our students don’t fully grasp those tradeoffs, so we have to be very careful with their information until they can make informed choices. You might want to sign up for Ohler’s blog at  his website -- it’s limited to one big idea every two weeks!

☆ Also in the “keeping kids safe” mode is a new, easy-to-use product for visitor registration called Envoy. Unlike some systems that use proprietary hardware, this is an iPad app-based solution that’s easy to set up and use. If you ever have trouble with an iPad, you can just download the app on another, and you’re good to go!

☆ A great new FREE tool from Microsoft Education is Mystery Skype. Your students get some real-life problems that connect to culture and geography.

☆ There is a lot of emphasis on literacy at this year’s conference, and the passion for reading on the part of many educators is evident. One great idea that I got from Pernille Ripp’s presentation Creating Passionate Learning Environments through Personalized Learning was a year-end activity: have each student present about “The Best Book I Read This Year!”

☆ I also attended the session Free Digital FlexBooks vs. Buying Textbooks: Why Is It Worth It? I certainly think actual books are still very important in certain areas, such as picture books for younger students. And it’s nice to just flip through pages now and then, instead of always reading from a screen. But I DO think most high school texts should be in electronic form, and maybe, just maybe, we should have curriculum in digital form, developed by the teachers in the school, pulling from various digital resources to match the learning goals and standards, instead of paying for bulky textbooks.

☆ In Kecia Rays’ presentation on student-focused active learning, she mentioned a resource from ISTE that will be handy in that regard: A Guide to Choosing Digital Content and Curriculum. This free download is a joint effort of ISTE, CoSN and the Center for Digital Education.

☆ Many of you are probably familiar with this, but I heard someone touting the We Are Teachers Blog -- which is produced and edited by actual teachers -- so I took a look, and it’s got a lot of very useful and creative content.

In closing, ISTE is an amazing conference, and I encourage all tech-using educators to attend at least once in their careers. Next year’s conference is in San Antonio, and in 2018, the conference returns to Chicago for the first time in many years. If ISTE is not a realistic possibility, remember that Iowa has a very similar conference in the fall, just on a smaller scale (1,500 to 2,000 people, as opposed to 15,000-20,000). This year’s ITEC conference is scheduled for Oct. 9-11 in Des Moines.

See you there!

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