Questions On This Combo

What should we forget?

A few more random thoughts on the merger of ISTE and ASCD. Actually, more questions than actual thoughts.

The plan to combine the two professional organizations was announced in September and consummated a couple of weeks ago following votes by both boards and the membership of ASCD. I guess ISTE’s bylaws didn’t require getting permission from our side.

No matter. It’s done and now comes the hard part: figuring out what this new combination is going to be. But I’m curious as to why it was necessary in the first place.

Typically something like this merger is triggered by financial problems. The pandemic probably had a big impact on the budgets of both organizations, which depend in large part on income from their big annual events. But, although they will save some money by only having one central office staff, do they achieve some kind of economy of scale on conferences?

According to the ISTE page about the merger, members will benefit in five ways. Including “Uniting technology with pedagogy to design the future of education”. Which strikes me as something the organization should have been doing all along without ASCD. Instead of pushing all kinds of shiny new devices and software.

Another of those benefits is “Expanding support for the whole educator with evidenced-based learning”. Lack of evidence for the effectiveness of technology in the classroom has always been one of the big weaknesses of ISTE, and frankly many other groups. I’m not sure I see how combining these two groups will change that.

A couple of other question-raising pieces. One, the very sparse page about the merger is hosted on the ASCD website and links to it are very hard to find on either site. And two, the head of the combined organization is the current head of ISTE.

Finally, according to the ISTE board, the “merger process will begin in January 2023” so I guess that’s when they start to decide what the new organization will look like, what it means for members of each group, and who loses their job. Because someone always lose their job in a merger.

Anyway, this rant about the ISTE/ASCD merger comes as our ISTE affiliate organization, the Virginia Society for Technology in Education, begins it’s annual conference. I’ve been involved with both groups (including on the conference committees) for many decades so I’m more than a little invested in this relatively sudden change of direction.

It will be at least interesting to follow this new path.

The photo is from the keynote presentation at last year’s VSTE conference, featuring Carl Hooker and Adam Phyall. “What should we forget?” is probably a good question for this and other circumstances.

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