I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the festivities and workshops at ISTE2010 in Denver this year. The most memorable part of the event for me was connection with people. It was exhilirating to collectively brainstorm with the best minds in the field on educational issues facing us today while we consider what's over the horizon.
Sitting around the blogger's cafe' with friends, listening to Chris Lehmann's jokes, debating ideas out in the open--not in some closed door session where the door is locked unless you camped out in line the night before. Seriously though, when I wasn't able to make a workshop I had scheduled, more often than not I would run into someone very engaging and informative who would make even better use of my time. There were a number of exceptional workshops which adopted a collaborative participatory approach, and those I liked.
I am reminded of Scott Meech's advice last year after the NECC Conference, for ISTE to arrange the venue with more collaborative and open learning spaces for free discussion. On that count, I believe they did an admirable job. It was usually at one of these impromptu gatherings that I would run into friends from my PLN which I had never met face-to-face before. That, to me, was priceless.
An important statement I made was during the panel discussion on Web 2.0 apps and Mobile Devices. I asserted that more work needed to be done in the area of iPad app development for disabled learners and those with special needs. Part of my mission in coming to Denver was to identify Sped apps for an iPad rollout this fall in our district. Camilla Gagliolo was nice enough to stay after the session to show me iPad apps she used in a recent pilot for autistic students. It was very moving to see a clip she showed me of a special needs student using the iPad for the first time, and then 2 weeks later where the student was successfully learning and responding--followed by the look of glee and wonderment. I would be disingenuous if I didn't admit that a tear came to both of our eyes watching that excitement on the student's face because of technology which enabled him to have fun learning.
Another objective I had was finding grant partnerships, and that was successful as well. One vendor has committed to an in-kind match of some classroom software under stimulus funds, and another donated a fully licensed copy of a desktop publishing suite for our Sped program to pilot and keep. Ken Royal was even nice enough to interview me so I could get our district's name out there that we are looking for collaborative partners to assist with grant funding and participation in various education initiatives.
I attended some phenominal workshops including EduBloggerCon, Andrew Churches' presentation on 21st Century Learners, Scott Meech's iear.org poster session and subsequent presentation of the Lifelong Learning Framework, Suzie Boss & Jane Krauss' Project Based Learning collaborative discussion and Renee Hobbs incredible 1 hour coverage of the latest in copyright law, understanding fair use, and how to apply it properly in our schools. It turns out that I have a copyright quick guide due for teacher orientation in a few weeks, and her session equipped me with everything I need to know to accomplish this task with relative ease and certainty.
The same could be said about Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss' facilitation of group discussion on ways to encourage project based learning in schools, and using the Gulf Oil spill as a teachable moment. I am currently working on a grant proposal which includes a PBL component in the intervention strategy for improving middle school science engagement and achievement (Project A.C.E.S. - Advancing Curriculum through the Exploration of Science). The information and contacts I gained through that one session will help me immensely in my work.
I should also give a special shout out to KimberlyW who showed me a rockin' threaded discussion site called Plurk. The photo of me on Plurk was taken on Kimberley's webcam at the bogger's cafe'. You can see me wearning the Podstock 2010 necklace Kevin Honeycutt was passing out to friends. Equally helpful was Lisa Thumann who pulled off the seeming impossible task of successfully getting Foursquare beta up and running on my Blackberry during her overview session in the ISTE Social Butterfly lounge earlier this week. Being on EdChatLive was really cool too.
Next year I am looking forward to being a presenter at ISTE2011 for Scott Meech's iPad Ed Apps Review organization (http://iear.org). I have a great deal to learn over the coming year, but know the hard work volunteering in this grass roots effort will benefit many students and teachers who will soon be using this emerging technology in their classrooms. Currently I am working with Scott on trying to get the word out and get people involved. Once I get an Pad then I can assist more in the reviews.
I am also in contact with a representative from the TCEA who maintains the iPhone/iPod/iPad Educational Apps google spreadsheet and am working with her to add a column of Sped apps. I am told there are approximately 22 autism apps available from the ABA which should probably be added to the list. Thanks also to Meg Ormi--whom I met at the end of Andrew Churches' presentation--she let me know about this list (which is included on iear.org), and to Katie Stansberry who asked me to blog about my experiences at ISTE2010.
Finally, the sense of camaraderie gained at the conference left me feeling energized and inspired to go back to my district and make a difference in the lives of students. After all, isn't that what its all about?