ISTE 2013: Spurring educational transformation
In Elesapiens we always have a great interest in everything related to the latest developments in information technology applied to education. So we decided to jump over to San Antonio, Texas, to visit ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) the largest ed-tech event in the world: more than 18,000 educators and industry professionals have been there. Over 800 conferences have taken place. Attendees from over 70 countries have visited the show. An awesome amount of energy and movement was felt in every square meter of the exhibition hall.
The main common goal for most of the attendees to this conference was undoubtedly to learn how to teach better, more effectively, with less effort. And make students enjoy and have fun while learning.
This has been basically the message of ISTE 2013: the value of games applied to learning. There is nothing more effective than learning through playing and by setting goals at a personal level, without them being imposed from the outside. It is always rewarding to know that your development and learning process depends basically on yourself.
What has called our attention strongly has been the interaction opportunities that you could see arise between counterparts from anywhere in the world.
People have come to the show more than willing to talk, to communicate, to share. Colleagues from anywhere in USA who had met in social networks have decided to meet there face to face, in order to exchange experiences and learning methods or plan future changes in their teaching procedures.
A Stimulating Room
This show is a good platform to give visibility to a small company and, on top of that they stimulate each other by generating new ideas. In the area of exhibitors there was some room dedicated to start-ups, with some interesting projects that can surely have success in the coming years.
On other stands we could overhear continuous conversations between visitors and exhibitors, there were shared ideas, changes predicted, questions floating on the air about the future…. Everybody talked and listened, amazing the dialogue ability.
As a curiosity we can mention a room where students train their own teachers on different subjects, or stands which teach educators to use applications for tablets or harness the potential of Google and other online tools. Stimulating.
Upstairs it was interesting to go and visit a conveniently located bloggers coffee where people could be seen sitting with their laptops, working while talking to their neighbours, working and networking.
We wonder how many interesting projects have come out and will be a reality soon out of all these meetings?
And the organization was good. We could see huge lines of people on the first day, but they were very quickly organized and redirected to the halls they wanted to go to by the large number of present volunteers, who did a great job. Even some of the meals had been paid by the sponsors of the event and were free for all attendees.
At ISTE 2013 we found something we had formerly seen at BETT 2013 and Virtual Educa 2013 in Medellin: Teachers craving to learn how to implement in the classroom all these changes and educational developments that are constantly being talked about in educators forums and discussions and that are so quickly taking off in certain areas. Everyone wants to participate in this unstoppable revolution that is taking place, and take advantage of the new tools that are being handed out to them.
The hardware is already there, so is the software. The contents begin to arrive. But… who will train teachers to use all this technology in the best possible way?
It is clear that further than training a creative mindset and a know-how of the teacher are required, as well asthe ability to communicate with students in the language they use. Without the combination of all these factors all this technology would be useless.
And that was one of the ideas repeated over and over during the massive opening ceremony of the conference that took place on Sunday June 23 in a stunningly full hall: without the integration of all these different tools that are present in a teacher´s daily life the everything will never be the sum of the parts.
And without the addition of all individual efforts it will be more complicated that this educational revolution will happen. That is, it IS happening also is because the vast majority want it. And they share their knowledge and push together to make this happen. And it will spread worldwide, it will not be easily stopped.
We’ll be back next year. We have enjoyed the energy and generosity present in the environment. The desire to change. Most educators wish fervently that the education sector also enters the twenty-first century, it is about time. We are late already.