10 takeaways from #ISTE2016

More than 18,000 attendees and exhibitors were expected at the ISTE Conference & Expo, held this week in Denver. SmartBrief editors have been on the ground looking for what's trending in educational technology. Keep reading for 10 takeaways, including lessons about the role of student voice in edtech decision-making and why one speaker says schools should focus on creating "maker cultures" instead of makerspaces.

  1. Involve students in learning decisions, and get ready to be amazed. Mother-daughter team Janice Johnson Dias and 11-year-old Marley Dias are raising awareness about introducing books with diverse female characters to students around the globe. The seed for the #1000BlackGirlBooks initiative took root and began growing with a simple question: What would you change? Marley since has become a literary activist, and in collaboration with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, she will lead a summer literacy tour, continuing to raise awareness about inclusion and diversity in children's literature.

  2. Students need literacy in more than just reading and writing, said actor Lavar Burton during a discussion about ISTE's new Student Standards, released this week. Technology, used properly in education, empowers students to take charge of their learning life and develop critical digital literacy skills, which they will need for their future, Burton said.

  3. Modern learning is comprised of three parts: Beliefs, context and practice, author and speaker Will Richardson told attendees during a session about rethinking schools. Richardson, who taught for 22 years, announced a new Facebook page that will seek to shine a light on change agents -- schools and educators who are reimagining learning for the modern world.

  4. Tech tools should help students work more efficiently, according to Jada K., 14, who was attending her third ISTE conference. The teen is making a case to her school's IT director to adopt Google Classroom, which she says is more efficient than the system students currently use to complete and submit assignments.

  5. When students bring their passions and insights to the table, they become "creators and not just consumers of ideas and technologies produced by others," said Princeton University's Ruha Benjamin during her keynote address. Benjamin encouraged teachers to foster this practice so students develop intellectual agility and creativity.

  6. What’s the next iteration of BYOD? Extreme BYOD, according to author and media psychologist Jason Ohler who spoke about trends he says are bending education. “Everyone wants their own personalized workspace,” he said, complete with their own suite of apps and software programs that connect the two world we’re all living in -- real life and virtual life.

  7. Schools should teach students about positive ways to use social media, instead of focusing only on the negatives or dangers of social media misuse, according to students speaking during The Kids Are All Right: Student Voices in the EdTech World Today session.

  8. Makerspaces in schools is a hot topic in the education world, but we need to be talking about “creating maker cultures” in schools, Will Richardson said, noting that creating a makerspace in a school is equivalent to what schools did when they created computer labs where students spend a specific amount of time each week. Making should permeate all classes, all day, he said.

  9. Technology gives us different ways to learn and create, says Taylor N., 18, who attended Microsoft's session on Minecraft. The session featured projects by students from various regions. "It was very eye opening to see what they did," Taylor said.

  10. You can use robotics for learning, not just for fun, says Paige N., 14, who also attended the Microsoft session. "It's not just a hobby -- it can become part of your curriculum," Paige said.

Melissa Greenwood is the director of education content at SmartBrief.

Kanoe Namahoe is the editor of SmartBrief on EdTech and SmartBrief on Workforce.
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Stay tuned in August for SmartReport on ISTE, where we will take a deep dive into edtech trends and what they mean for schools. Until then, check out last year's issue of SmartReport on ISTE.

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