So many people have swarmed over the Georgia World Congress Center that one can hardly get to some of the places. I have made it to several poster sessions but other interesting sessions have been ticketed or closed. Really these have been interesting and insightful almost more so than the sessions. What I love about the poster sessions is the actual hands-on experiences and we got to hear from students at most of the sessions. So much of what we have heard throughout is the focus on the students and their learning. It is not on the device, it is not on the technology, it is on the learning…as it should be.
Yesterday, I went to a sessions by Gary Stager (Invent to Learn) and came away energized by his focus on students and getting them to learn through making. During his talk, he threw in several quips about focusing on test scores and how some places worry about protecting study time for kindergarten. Really however, his message, and the message that I have been hearing since I came to first ISTE conference has not changed much: Teach are kids for their future and do so in ways that involve the student and give them the skills they will need to continue learning.
So, I ask myself after hearing this same message now for over 10 years: is anybody listening? Those who have come to conference hear this message but do they really live it. I saw a quote on Twitter, mentioning that it is the CULTURE of the building that determines how students learn. Should it also be the CULTURE of our nation that raises our test scores. Do the individuals who are here go back and create such a CULTURE within their classroom so that others can hear this same message? This Twitter quote really sets that up for the building: “@anthsperanza: Mindsets are required for using technology, not only skill sets via @gcouros #ISTE2014”.
Then, I go in the ISTE Expo Center and here is where the questions really come to light as this area is full of gadgets and companies trying to sell one this online learning platform or this gadget or these packages. The one that I really questioned was the one called “Worksheets”. Basically the concept is you create a worksheet, send to students digitally, they do it, send it back, and you can grade it. Really? People will buy this technology? The focus isn't on doing the same things in the same way. If worksheets were such an awesome pedagogy then we'd be focused on still using them day in and day out. However, whether they are electronic or not, worksheets aren't the best so why digitize them and called the tech integration. It's not and the sooner people realize that the better. Again, another Twitter quote comes to mind: “Led by instruction, powered by technology” (Ronald Chandler).
Really getting some great ideas and coming home with lots—Watch out RSHS!