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. 🙂


I have 30 minutes before I leave for the airport and head back to Seattle for what’s left of my summer vacation.

As I reflect on this years ISTE conference a couple things come to mind.

A HUGE shout out to the organizers and the Convention Center. By far this has been the best WiFi access at any ISTE conference since I’ve been coming (this is my 5th). It was slow at times, but overall the ability to keep a connection running among 13,000+ geekie educators was very smooth. I hope it stays this way in the future.

They were everywhere! I know they sold 2 million in the first two months, but I swear half of those were here at the conference! I’m not sure what the future holds for this device, but all I heard about was battery life, battery life, battery life! Looking forward to seeing how they are used in schools next year with students.

My first ISTE presentation:
This year I finally made it in the program and gave my first ever ISTE presentation. I hope it was useful to those who attended. You can find the handouts here along with the videos that people seemed to enjoy.

Once again I’ve been reminded on what’s the real reason we still fly to conferences like this. It’s for the conversations. Those planned like the ones at EduBloggerCon and those unplanned like the one’s we have here at Blogger’s Cafe. In the end, we like being with others in person, we like the human factor of sitting and chatting with those we learn from year round. I spent more time offline rather than online this conference just enjoying being here with others. I’m online with them the rest of the year…..I only get three days of being with them in person.

Where do we go?
I keep asking myself if anything has changed in the 5 years since I’ve started attending ISTE (NECC) conferences….and I’m not sure if anything has. There are more people hanging out at the Blogger’s Cafe, there are more blogging educators and that’s fantastic. But looking through the sessions I didn’t notice much of a change. There was no sessions on RSS this year, yet some educators I talked to who are attending for the first time had never heard of RSS.

The theme of “Mobile” and “Global” were prominent and I’m seeing the same trends in conferences around the world. Everyone is talking about mobile devices and how do we help students become more globally minded.

I believe it starts with teachers. We need more teachers to think globally. The tools are here, the ideas and lessons and connections are out there….now we just need to do it.

We need to help teachers to learn to reach (shameless self-promotion) out and create connections that they can bring back into their classrooms in supporting kids.

We can’t help students be globally minded if we are not globally minded ourselves.

So there’s your focus this year. How do you become or help others become more globally minded? How do we help students teach students the power of connecting and understand the networks that this new digital landscape is made of?

Those are the questions I’m walking away with this year from ISTE.

A comment left by Dan Christian yesterday on my post about the changing landscape of blogging. Has me back here thinking about my job as an educational technologist.

First I think we need to understand how I view my job and what I think the job of an educational technologist should include.

First and foremost we are educators. Our job is to educate. Our students range in age from 60+ to less than 5 years old. Our mission is to teach them how to use technology to learn, create, be more productive or make a task easier. The only way we can do that is to have a solid understanding of what is out there, that tools exist both as part of the computer’s operating system and on the web that allow us to do our job easier, to learn differently, or connect us to people, thoughts, ideas that we never had access to before.

The power of the network at work.

Clarence Fisher and Jen Wagner brought this to my attention. Barbara Barreda, the principal of St. Elisabeth’s school has lost her house do to the wildfires in LA.

Two years ago a class at Barbara’s school skyped a class in Shanghai to talk about the differences between our schools and cities.

How global are we?

I didn’t even know there were wildfires going on in LA, yet I am able to give and help a friend in need and learn about the needs of others through the network.

A thanks to Clarence and Jen for bringing this to our attention. When a part of your network is in need it feels good to know you can help out in some small way.

Clarence and Jen have set up a paypal account to help Barbara out.

We have set up a paypal account
where every single penny will be given straight to Barbara to meet her
expenses. Currently she is staying with a friend but literally has the
clothes on her back and the few items she could throw into her car.

The power of the network

I can’t believe it’s been that long since I posted and yet I’m glad I took the time off. It is good to disconnect once in awhile, to reflect on ones life and to spend time with family.

My mom and dad flew in on Dec. 14 for their first visit every to China. Of course I set up a blog for my mother so she could write about her experience and family members back home could follow their journey through Shanghai, Bangkok, and Beijing. It was a great two weeks of spending time off the grid. But I missed it (not sure if that is a good thing). The network is where my friends are. It’s the daily connections, the Skype chats, the reading and writing. That is what 2007 will be remembered as. For me it was the “Year of the Network”.

2007 saw networks flourish. Looking back to what I wrote last year (Jan. 4, 2007):

Today, I woke up looking forward to tackling the long list of e-mails that awaited me from my 2 weeks of being disconnected (OK, I checked e-mail twice while in Vietnam). I made it through 2 e-mails, but instead was part of 3 Skype chats, 2 Skype calls, 4 Google Chats, and 1 more Skpye call tonight. Is this 2007? The year when chat and VoIP take over the world, when e-mail finally does not do justice to the conversations we are having? If so I’m excited.

Little did I know then that I was talking about the learning network that would defined what 2007 was for me. It was the year of the network. The year of my Skype contact list becoming to long, having 400+ people on twitter, and trying to define the difference between a learning community and a learning network.

As I reflect back over the past year it’s been an interesting one both personally and professional. Leading me down a path that ultimately saw me resign from my current position for something “different” (yet to be defined). Does that mean a different school? A different job? Or something more like what Clay and Will write about? One thing that I do know is that it will be my network that will help me find what “different” is either directly or indirectly, I believe it will be the network that leads to my next road in life.

So that leaves me looking ahead to 2008. Not knowing what the future holds for me personally or professionally. I can feel it though. Like a rain storm coming on a hot summers day. The kind you can watch rolling in off the mountains and you smell the rain before it starts. Something is going to give in 2008, like the storm that sits over the mountains for days before unleashing it’s down pour, it is going to come.

Barbara Torris left a comment the other day that has had me thinking about what the future holds for education, learning, and networks. What is going to “tip us forward” in 2008 that we will be talking about a year from now?

I believe it has to do with the “Live Web” that Doc Searles talks about (via Will Richardson). If 2007 was the year of the network, then I believe 2008 will be the year of the “Live Web”.

I base this souly off my own experiences but here’s what I see happening on the web today.

Ustream.tv: I’ve been very impressed with this web site and its ease of use. Live video where anyone that wants to can have their own web channel. Ustream is just the beginning. In 2008 we’ll see more web sites like this start to pop up.

Podcasts: The edtechtalk network has been doing this for awhile. But I think we’re going to see an increase in live broadcasts on the web with an archive podcast. I’m still looking for the perfect app that will stream your podcast live and archive it as an mp3 at the same time…basically a ustream for audio files.

Of course live chat will become even more popular.  I host all my web sites at bluehost.com partly because they offer 24/7 chat support on their front page. I know I have instant access to live support when I need it. Part of the reason I bank with the bank I do is for live chat. From 9am-5pm Monday – Friday my bank offers free live chat service via their web site. Living overseas this has been a huge benefit knowing I can chat with someone from my bank and not pay long distance phone charges.

I believe we’ll continue to see an increase in these types of live on-demand applications. I can see credit card companies getting on board, more banks, etc. The streaming of live content will continue to evolve and I think we’ll see more schools using this as well. Live video of school sporting events. Live feeds from classrooms or presentation. Yes, 2008 is going to be different. There’s a storm brewing out there, I can smell it…..and I’m exciting to find where my place is in it!

[tags]networks, liveweb[/tags]

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So Yesterday I get done writing about how society and our use of networks and technology is why school need to change and headed out to do some shopping and get some pictures printed off for family and friends.

We’ve been living overseas now for 5 (going on 6) years. Every summer when we return on holiday we find that America has moved even farther into the digital age. I’ll never forget 2 years ago when we came home ran into Wal-Mart to grab something real quick went to check out and walked up to an automatic check out machine. We both looked at each other trying to figure out what to do. We put our groceries down in the wrong spot and it told us to remove them. My wife then scanned a bottle of wine and alarms went off (Note to self don’t use an auto checkout machine when buying alcohol) we then had to wait for a person to come check our ID. In the end we felt we had been thrown 5 years into the future (which coming from Saudi Arabia wasn’t real difficult).

Yesterday offered up yet another experience. I had the ScanDisk card from our digital camera and went to Target to run off some photos we had taken of friends and family. I wondered around Target for 5 minutes trying to find the photo shop with no luck. So I asked a helpful person in the electronic center.

“Is there a place I can print some digital pictures?”

Answer: “Not in the store. You have to go to target.com upload the pictures there and then you can pick them up here tomorrow.”

Part of me is saying “How cool is that” and the other part of me is saying “That sucks!”

So we head to Wal-Mart, where you can print off digital pictures but if you went to walmart.com uploaded your picture and picked them up the next day they were half the price.

As I sit here now writing this and thinking back…I can’t believe how fast things change and how this connected network is being used in so many different ways. I enjoy coming back to the States every summer just to see how things have changed, how the advancements in technology are changing our lives and how we as a society are being asked to adjust to these new tools and this new network.


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