Five #ISTE2014 Tweets that STILL Have Me Thinking.

One of my favorite parts about attending a conference like #ISTE2014 is having the chance to think deeply with brilliant peers.  Every conversation that I had — whether it took place in a diner, outside the Expo hall, in the backchannel of a session, or on a walk back to the condo that I shared with Philip Cummings and John Spencer — was a chance to wrestle with teaching and learning in today’s world.

What I loved the best, though, was working to share those conversations through Twitter.  Because Twitter is an intentionally restricted medium built on short messages, giving others a summary of the learning that I was doing required me to clarify and polish and condense the fundamental notions running through my head.  The results, I think, are clear and simple statements of my core beliefs.

Here are five of those statements that still have me thinking:

One of the things that I liked the LEAST about ISTE was listening to people tell me about their favorite digital tools simply because MOST of those conversations overlooked the simple truth that technology alone isn’t a motivator for kids:

 

On a similar note, I started thinking a lot about the kinds of people that we look to for leadership in today’s digital world.  Often, we celebrate the Techie, thinking that any person with a backpack full of digital tools HAS to know what matters in today’s classroom.  The simple truth is that I’d take a teaching geek over a tech geek any day:

 

Walking through the Expo Hall at ISTE is — in many ways — a frightening experience.  You are surrounded by hundreds of companies peddling their products, working to convince you that their features would revolutionize education.  What frustrated me was that 90% of the crap on display did nothing to give kids the chance to learn about, participate in, or improve the world around them:

 

Early on in my ISTE experience, I spent an hour or so sitting in a Commons Area with 10 or 15 other attendees.  During the entire time, NO ONE had a conversation.  Instead, they stared into screens, Tweeting or texting or Voxing or blogging or Instagramming.  That worried me:

 

If we aren’t talking about kids first and tech second, we’re wasting our time — and probably our district’s cash.  But I’m still shocked at how easy it is to get wrapped up in conversations about gadgets — especially when we are at a conference where people brag about being techies and gear heads and gadget freaks:

 

Any of this resonate with you?  What did ISTE leave you wondering about?

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Related Radical Reads:

The Gadget Happy Classroom Fail

Change Depends on MORE than Shiny iGadgets

Technology is a Tool, NOT a Learning Outcome

16 thoughts on “Five #ISTE2014 Tweets that STILL Have Me Thinking.

  1. Kendra Grant

    Oh, and one more thought. It was great having students present. It reminds us what its all about. When those students have challenges it highlights how far we have to go to support the learning needs of all children. At the Communication Playground we had one presenter, Kevin Williams @LLSLIM who presented using an augmentative commication device – powerful. https://twitter.com/setsig/media

  2. Kendra Grant

    I was a vendor at ISTE for many years but as an educator my focus was on pedagogy and engaging in conversations about learning. I remember people coming up to us at our booth saying “You’re the first vendor we’ve met talking about learning and not technology!” It seems not much has changed. As long as districts keep focused on “iPad Initiatives” and “Tech Rollouts” we’ll be doing the same thing we did with Interactive Whiteboards – say they really aren’t what we need and let’s look for the next “shiny object” that will solve all our problems.

    In regard to your comment about everyone with their heads down, my son (a pre-service teacher) attended ISTE for the first time. He tweeted out “Teachers messing around on their devices at #ISTE2014 during presentations is all too similar to students on their phones during class #irony”

    He also found it odd that in a BYOD session he attended he never actually did anything with the device. Again, talking about the app, the device, the cool feature rather than the learning it can enhance and support and letting teachers try it out.

    Thanks for the great post!

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Kendra wrote:

      In regard to your comment about everyone with their heads down, my son (a pre-service teacher) attended ISTE for the first time. He tweeted out “Teachers messing around on their devices at #ISTE2014 during presentations is all too similar to students on their phones during class #irony”

      ————

      One of the things I’ve always taken to heart, Kendra, is that when the audience isn’t with me — whether they are kids in my classroom or participants in a workshop — it’s my fault. I haven’t found content that resonates with them. While presenters and teachers get riled by these participants because they feel disrespected, they are the ones being disrespectful simply because they haven’t worked to deliver a message that matters to the audience.

      Interesting stuff…
      Bill

  3. Derek Hatch (Hatcherelli)

    Love the post, Bill. You know you have gone to a good and useful PD when you are able to share such great thoughts. I was #isteless again this year as I am changing schools. It was great to follow the conversation from miles away as many great educators, like you, we’re sharing their learning and thoughts.
    You bring up a great point. How much time is spent talking about tech rather than about kids? Let’s talk about learning and then find the tech that allows us to teach our kids. Or better yet, let our kids find the tech which complements and enhances their learning.
    I’m glad you had a great time at ISTE. Thanks for sharing!
    Derek

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Hey Hatch,

      In my experience, we are STILL spending WAY too much time talking about tech and WAY too little time talking about kids. Frustrates me times ten.

      I’m even questioning the point of a “technology conference.” I think it puts the attention in the wrong space.

      Still looking forward to partnering with you guys around Kiva. Haven’t had the chance to do much with that simply because I’ve been traveling hard. I have a new period next year that should let me fit Kiva into the classroom. That will help with our partnership.

      Rock on,
      Bill

  4. Pingback: #ISTE2014 Reflection #1 | It's All About Learning

  5. Philip Cummings

    Of the five, the last tweet resonates with me the most. I’m interested in tech and tools, but I’m more interested in kids. I want to be the best teacher I can be for them, and I want to empower them. I love the projects you have done with your kids to help them change the world, Bill. Your #sugarkills and Kiva projects are both inspiring and empowering. Thanks for elevating the conversation. I’m still interested in IBRG, too. If you and Hutch decide to give it a go again, let me know.

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Philip wrote:

      I’m interested in tech and tools, but I’m more interested in kids. I want to be the best teacher I can be for them, and I want to empower them.

      ——————
      That’s the thing I love about hanging out with you, Philip. Anytime that we are together, I know that I’m going to have conversations about learning INSTEAD of gadgets. That singular focus is what makes you someone that I admire and enjoy.

      And I’ll definitely keep you posted if we tinker with IBRG this year. Not sure that is going to happen again. What about Battle of the Books? Would you be interested in getting your kids involved in that? I think Hutch has big plans for that this year. And we’ll be working on both #sugarkills and Kiva during our school’s enrichment period this year. If your kids want to join us in that, I’m totally down.

      Lemme know,
      Bill

  6. K. Lirenman

    Bill, I’m pretty sure I saw, and retweeted each of those tweets as I couldn’t agree more. Just yesterday I was speaking with an ed tech company and I expressed how as much as they are trying to automate my job, I, the teacher, am the only one who can do my job because I am the only one who is with my students each and every day. You can’t automate me! I was disgusted by the companies that helped me “control” or “manage” my students.

    It was a real pleasure to be able to spend time with you. Once I have a paycheque again I plan to save so I can enjoy one more ISTE before it goes back to my last week of teaching.

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Karen wrote:

      I expressed how as much as they are trying to automate my job, I, the teacher, am the only one who can do my job because I am the only one who is with my students each and every day. You can’t automate me!

      —————-

      I’m with you here, Karen. While I want #edtech companies to automate the grunt work of our job, I balk with the suggestion that we can automate the delivery of instructional experiences to kids. That rubs me the wrong way.

      And no kidding: Having the chance to hang out with you was a highlight of ISTE for me! When I found out that all y’all from #sd36learn nation were going to be an hour flight away, I KNEW I had to come — and I’m glad that I did.

      Here’s to hoping it’s not the last time that we get together in person…
      Bill

  7. edifiedlistener

    Thanks for these, Bill. These certainly resonated with me because they capture many of the concerns I have had about our tendency to glorify technology in lieu of tackling the really tough questions about how best to meet the changing needs of our kids. These also hit the mark as I observe my own increased reliance on various devices and notice the conflicts I experience between being fully present with my family and trying to keep up with my digital interests. Always a work in progress navigating this cool new world…

  8. John Spencer

    I can’t believe you didn’t include the breakfast cereal tweet. That one was perfect.

    By the way, hanging out with you was one of the highlights of the conference.

  9. mathmindsblog

    I SO appreciate your focus on student learning, those tweets completely resonated with me. I did chuckle at your Expo perspective because I just wrote something similar in my blog reflection as well. I see it at math conferences often and wonder at what point an organization just says, “No, you cannot be a vendor at our conference because this tool/material/program does not support our vision of student learning.”
    Thank you for you post!
    -Kristin

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Kristin wrote:

      I wonder at what point an organization just says, “No, you cannot be a vendor at our conference because this tool/material/program does not support our vision of student learning.

      ——————

      I TOTALLY wish this would happen, Kristin — but given that those vendors are paying a premium to peddle their crap to attendees, I’m not sure we can count on conferences to be selective about who they allow in and who they chase away.

      Thanks for stopping by…
      Bill

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