Picture Post #14 (ISTE 16 Edition)

A few shots from our time in Denver for the 2016 ISTE conference. Not many of the photos I took are from the actual event but that’s fine. Plenty of other people took those shots. As always, more of my stuff is on Flickr.

Street Computing

This young man looks like he might be part of the conference but was just computing while waiting for the bus.

HackEd 2016

A group photo of the wonderful people who participated in the 10th annual HackEd unconference (which started life as EduBloggerCon) the Saturday before ISTE actually starts.

Stage Door

Next to the convention center and across from our hotel is the Denver Performing Arts Center. And every theater needs a stage door, with some interesting art work.

Blue Bear

I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only photographer at the conference who took this shot. It was hard to miss the big blue bear curiously looking through the front window of the Denver convention center.

Gracefully Accepting the Unknown

At the ISTE conference in Denver last week, I was intrigued by this building near the convention center, both for the name and decoration.

Bovine Metropolis

According to their website, this is the home of a theater and school dedicated to improvisational performance, one that “teaches the art of accepting the unknown gracefully”.

I can’t help thinking that is a core skill we should be helping students to learn. Along with the art of improvisation.

A Conflicted First Reflection on ISTE 2016

As usual I’m returning from the ISTE conference conflicted. I have a love-hate relationship with the conference. Well, hate is rather strong. It’s more like a love-meh relationship.

ISTE is huge, loud, expensive, frustrating, often confusing. Even those of us with experience participating in these large meetings 1 occasionally wake up trying to remember what day it is.

But the size of ISTE can also be a big positive. Many of people I read, follow, respect, and known for years attend the event. And even with ubiquitous social media, sometimes there’s no substitute for a face-to-face conversation, if nothing else just to catch up on where they are in their lives. The HackEd unconference, which started ten years ago as EduBloggerCon and held on the Saturday before the conference start, is a big draw all by itself.

As to the formal conference, many of the session presentations seem to spend far more time on technology than on teaching and learning. And that’s especially true of massive vendor area that has come to dominate ISTE. More and more, it’s clear that major sponsors are increasingly driving the content and focus of the conference.

That influence also seems to be leaking out into other, more informal areas of the event. The themed playground areas were spaces where, for the most part, educators who actually work with kids show off what they were doing in their classrooms. This year most of what I saw in those areas seemed to be a mini vendor area, with prepared demos selling products instead of ideas. And it appears to be seeping over into the poster area, with more sales pitches instead of one-on-one conversations.

I know I’m seeing ISTE through different eyes than most of the attendees. But if you didn’t attend this year’s conference in Denver, go watch the video of the opening keynote when they post it in a few days. The attempted late night talk show style of the way-too-long lead up to the main speaker (at least an hour), full of product placements (products being people and organizations), exemplifies for me how this annual event has become more about selling and less about learning.

Anyway, all of the above is a brain dump, written on the flight home and published with minor edits. I reserve the right to revise any of these thoughts after time for reflection (plus some nights of regular sleep). A large event like ISTE always requires several weeks to fully process all the conversations, images, ideas, URLs, tweets, and plain old notes collected over five days.

However, I’m pretty sure my conflicted relationship with ISTE and it’s conference will continue.