We have work to do – my #iste13 reflection


ISTE 2013 has been over for a few weeks now and to be honest my brain is still swimming. There have been so many outstanding post-#iste13 posts already from the likes of Matt Gomez, Amber Teamann, AJ Juliani, Jimmy Casas, Angela Watson, and many more. I don’t want to just echo what so many of my friends have already said. I want to get out a few thoughts about the conference in general and I would be remiss if I didn’t say something about my good friend Adam’s closing keynote too.


So ISTE received a rebranding that was unveiled in San Antonio. Not just a new logo but also a new tagline: Connected learning. Connected world.  This year the conference really felt different for me and I think this is what spoke to me the most. I have said this often in tweets, presentations, and conversations: We are better together. I truly believe this and I love that the conference seems to be embracing this more than ever. I had a sense of this more than any other year. This is because of the thousands in attendance in person and the thousands following the conference virtually. Yes, even those #notatISTE. I’d like to see ISTE offer even more learning opportunities to those not able to attend ISTE in person next year in Atlanta. Our world continues to get smaller because of the web and the technologies and media that it brings to our homes and our classrooms. We truly have global learning opportunities that put people, places, and experiences a few clicks away. No matter what buzz word you label it with, teaching (and more importantly learning) no longer has to only happen Monday thru Friday from 9:00 to 4:00 and within the walls of our classrooms. A phrase like “Connected learning. Connected world.” speaks volumes to this. It’s not just places but more importantly the people all over the world we can connect to; to become better at what we do for the students that we teach.

Learning while not in a session

The Bloggers’ Cafe. The Social Butterfly Lounge. ISTE Central. Poster exhibits. The learning opportunities available apart from the formal “sit ‘n get” sessions were numerous. People taking the time to stop and have conversations; establishing relationships of learning and sharing and growing together. Many will attest that this type of learning was more impactful on their practice than any formally scheduled session. Not that there wasn’t not strong substance in those sessions! I want to be clear that’s not what I’m saying. I think we should take a harder look at the value of the less formal learning opportunities at conferences in general, not just ISTE. I look forward though to seeing how ISTE and other conferences further grow these components for next year.

ISTE did livestream many sessions during the conference however. You can find them all here on their YouTube playlist. So much great stuff there you can plan our your own self-directed PD through the rest of Summer and the Fall probably.

Brave enough to do it anyway

Now, in full disclosure, Adam is a great friend of mine so I’m a bit partial to his amazing ability to bring a message. Adam has great stories and outstanding multimedia components to every presentation he does. I have watched his closing keynote now three times on YouTube after the conference was over. It was that good. I have seen my fair share of keynotes, even given a few myself, but none of moved me and made me even more excited to be a connected learner than Adam’s did. I said it to Adam right after he delivered his keynote and I’ll say it again: I’m proud to know you Adam. Alright, enough “bromance”. 🙂

One of the things Adam said during his keynote that has stuck with me is this: “Innovation happens when you intersect fear and bravery.”

This is the work we have to do between now and next year’s conference. Are we creating a culture in our schools and districts that encourages trying innovative things? Are our leaders modeling innovative practices? If we continue to let fear of failure rule our school systems then that’s where we’ll stay. In systems that are dated and resistant to change. It starts with us. How are you going to share with your school and district the great things you learned? What conversations do you plan to have with school and district leadership? Think about where we are now and where we could be by the next ISTE. Think of all the exciting new things that will be shared; but only if we make something happen.

3 thoughts on “We have work to do – my #iste13 reflection”

  1. Hi Kyle. Because of personal obligations, I didn’t get a chance to follow the happenings at ISTE2013, so thanks for sharing a few highlights and emphases. I’ll have to check out the keynote and some of the archived sessions.

    The theme, “Connected learning. Connected world” fits the changing face of not only digital learning/presence for students, but also for educators. The opportunities available online for learning seem limitless. There are many like myself, who don’t get the chance to attend these kind of events and rely on other ways to grow. In a way, it’s a blessing. It provides fertile ground for connecting with others.

    My big PD event this year was participating in #ETMOOC (http://etmooc.org/) (online/synchronous/asynchronous), created by Alec Couros (@courosa) and his cohort, and connected learning was the culture of the MOOC. It helped remind me that educators need to share to learn and learn to share. I also found it was important for us to create a PD plan and take ownership of our lifelong learning (vs. waiting for admin. to tell us what we should learn – and stay passive as learners). And that learning is best done with others. It’s kind of strange to me that educators seem to be the last to get that, don’t you?

    In our area, there is still an over-dependence on bringing in “experts” to do trainings, with NO effort to create “connected learning” experiences. Social media is rarely utilized or mentioned as an avenue for creating those connections. Often, the trainings become “spray and pray” events, which emphasize pouring out loads of content, but don’t really foster learning as a PROCESS. The CONNECTED LEARNING piece is often absent. Sometimes, I wonder if that has anything to do with why teachers continue to struggle with their own pedagogy and instructional practice mirroring evolving digital teaching and learning? I know that beyond that, we need to continue to work on encouraging a culture in our schools that encourages educators to be courageous – to step outside the box and learn and grow in their practice as CONNECTED LEARNERS. Let’s keep sounding that cry!

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