Chris Lehmann wrote a blog post a couple days ago about why ISTE still matters to him and I just wanted to follow up with a thank you to ISTE and the conference organizers for their continued effort in trying to make this the best conference experience they can. 

I for one have a new found respect for conference organizers as I’m sure Chris does as well after organizing our own conferences. Ever since I helped to start the Learning 2.0 in Asia I complain less about conferences. I know what it took to put together a conference for 400 and can’t image what it takes to put a conference together for 15,000ish people all of who expect to have all 2 or 3 of their devices online and working. Just thinking of the bandwidth, IP addresses, access points, and everything else needed to run the online portion of the conference blows my mind. So thank you ISTE for trying…I for one appreciate the effort. 

ISTE12I had a few ISTE newbies come up to me and ask my to recommend sessions and presenters to see or attend. They all had ‘bad experiences’ with going to sessions that looked good on paper but ended up being sale pitches for a product or just weren’t what they needed or wanted in the session. It is a good thing to remember to “vote with your feet” at a conference. If something isn’t meeting your needs walk out. I know that’s hard to do at ISTE when your #2 or #3 choice is probably full already but don’t waste your time sitting in a session that you’re not getting anything from. Go network, go reflect, go do some browsing.

(I wonder if we told students to vote with their feed how many would get up and walk out of classes that weren’t meeting their needs?)

ISTE is a hard conference for first timers. It’s big and overwhelming and you have to have a plan going in or you’ll get swallowed up in no time at all. 

I for one enjoy ISTE, a couple sessions I went to made me think and the conversations at the Blogger’s Cafe were good…but this year I found my most productive conversations were away from the conference over dinner and drinks reminding me how important and powerful the social setting is to a conference and to learning in general.

If you couldn’t go this year hopefully you’ll be able to make it next year….and hopefully next year I’ll get a chance to present. 🙂


Student Protest

There has been a lot of talk at ISTE12 this year about education needing a “Revolution not an Evolution”.


1. an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed.
2. Sociology: a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence. Compare social evolution.
Social Evolution: the gradual development of society and social forms, institutions, etc., usually through a series of peaceful stages. Compare revolution ( def. 2 ) .

What is this education revolution going to be? Who are we going to overthrow? And the biggest issue of all…..revolutions means you are willing to die or at least get fired for your cause and honestly I don’t know to many teachers who believe strongly enough about what this education revolution should change into to quit their jobs. 

So what we end up with is a social evolution and I think that’s what we’re seeing. This is why change is gradual in education. Those of us in power; administrators, teachers, etc like our jobs…like having a job and therefore we can’t cause a revolution. We can cause an evolution and that’s what we’re seeing.

So if teachers don’t have the power to bring a revolution to education who does?

Parents? Yes….parents could decide not to send their children to school. Will that happen? I don’t think so.

Which leaves us where?

Students….this is who will bring the revolution and this is who we need to be talking to if we truly believe there needs to be a revolution in education. Of course the revolution isn’t coming so what we’re getting is an evolution of education.

In my TEDx presentation I talk about students being the change agents….and if we are going to see a revolution it will come from them. Little did I know just 6 months after giving that TED Talk what I explained would play out in Egypt. Students and people taking to social networks and creating a revolution. 

It is scary to think the power that even just high school and middle school students have via these social networks. Here’s the issue….students survive school and are worried about real world problems. Most recently students used Facebook to walk out of classes on May 1st over immigration laws

So we can call for a revolution all we want, but unless we’re willing to take to the streets and risk our own jobs it just won’t happen. So we end up evolving, pushing, and making change one slow step at a time. It’s frustrating work…..but it’s the work we have to do…we have to keep evolving, keep pushing. It will take time but we’ll get there. 



As I sit here somewhere over California at 37,000 feet I’m excited for ISTE12 after missing it last year for reasons I can’t really talk about. 😉

But I’m back and ready to connect and reconnect with my PLN that for years now has supported me, pushed me, and even razzed me from time to time. ISTE is an interesting conference it is huge both in venue and in participants making it overwhelming to many and it definitly can be.

There is no shortage of bloggers and tweeters giving their advice on how to prepare for and have a succesful ISTE conference….everyone has their system their “how tos”. It is all great stuff. I think the bottom line is to have an approach. If you don’t you’ll be swallowed up quickly.

My approach is rather simple. Sit at the Blogger’s Cafe and connect with friends new and old. Maybe go to a session here or there that really looks interesting or that is someone who I want to see present. But really I’m here to connect with people. The content is great, but people are better. 

I think my favorite thing to do at ISTE is help people new to all this social networking get connected. In ’10 I remember sitting around helping a bunch of new tweeter educators get signed up and explaning to them just how this twitter thing works. Or talking about blogging and how to get started with it.

So that’s my approach at ISTE12 this year. Have conversations, help newbies who need it, and enjoy people. If you see me around please come say Hi, introduce yourself so we can start putting faces to names to twitter handles to blog titles. 

Ready or not ISTE12 is here!