ISTELive 23 Highlights and Discoveries
ISTELive 23 brought together more than 17,000 educators, tech and learning advocates, and a multitude of emerging technologies from various organizations. In what seemed to be the best ISTE gathering I’ve been to over the years, folks came from all over the US and around the world to discover the next big thing in education technology.
The Big Idea
My big takeaway for ISTELive 2023 can be summed up in one word: CONNECT. Stay connected, build upon your relationships. Bring back the joy of teaching and learning in whatever capacity or role you have in K-12 education. As a leading publisher of children’s content, Capstone is moving forward with supporting teachers, educators, families, and school communities with the idea that Learning Is For Everyone and everyone working together for a common purpose can lead to great outcomes.
While emerging technology is exciting, ISTE reminds us that the true power of technology is when it is used in service of a larger goal. Far-reaching, significant goals were on attendees' minds, such as increasing student voice, representation, equity, and inclusion. Sessions I attended highlighted the idea of connectedness. Not just through technology applications, or online learning, but through human experiences.
Attendees were ready and willing to dive deep and explore how technology fosters and increases collaboration, discovery, and ideation. There was much discussion about the balance of digital and nondigital learning, as well as offline extensions and interactions. I believe this will be the call to action for educators leaving ISTE this year: How will you take your learnings and find ways to create meaningful interactions in the classroom with your students?
Beyond the idea of connectedness and the role technology plays in it, here are some of the emerging topics, technologies, and highlights that I took from ISTE Live 2023:
AI and ChatGPT
It goes without saying that AI and ChatGPT were the hottest topics at the show, with several sessions highlighting the impact, implications, and pitfalls of this innovative technology in education. As one person asked me at the event, “What’s new in EdTech without mentioning AI and ChatGPT?” I honestly struggled to come up with a good response. You couldn’t walk the hallways, sessions, exhibit hall, or keynote sessions without hearing about this new phenomenon. It was absolutely everywhere.
Common questions and comments included the notion that ChatGPT should be used cautiously, but as a resource to allow for deeper thinking and review, much like a tutor to support teaching and learning. Some suggested that maybe it would change the need to teach writing, others suggested that it would not replace content knowledge but rather enhance learning. Still, many were concerned over the accuracy, reliability, and even the source of content derived from ChatGPT, not to mention copyright and citation issues. Sessions included tips on how to best integrate and use the power of this emerging technology in the classroom, and highlighted the fact that much like computers, internet, and cell phones, it is not going away, and will be a part of how students learn and acquire knowledge going forward.
Stretch, a new application coming soon, is a chatbot designed specifically for K-12 educators. This resource is the brainchild of ISTE and ASCD working in partnership with Google and Open AI. Like most chatbots that curate and absorb information form various sources from across the Internet, Stretch will lean on content that has been vetted and examined by ISTE and ASCD. This education focused approach allows educators to have reliable, current, and relevant information while citing the sources, which give added accountability. You can learn more about Stretch here.
So, what else was top of mind at ISTE Live 2023? Coding, VR/AR, robots, gamification, and poster sessions on computer science and computational thinking were all in full swing. One of the growth areas that I saw across ISTE this year was the idea of content creation for students. This will be something to follow more closely.
Student and educator data privacy and security, integrating systems with Single Student Sign On (SSO), and easy access to unifying content appeared to be a big focus. Walking through the exhibit hall, many of the EdTech companies seemed to be sharing much of the advancements in their applications and technology.
Attending several EdWeek Market Brief sessions at ISTE, much conversation centered around the funding cliff, legislation policy and changes, teacher shortage/retention and the idea of embracing the change versus fear.
Let’s embrace this new ChatGPT thing and fill our cups with great new technology, but let’s also find ways to listen, learn, collaborate, and laugh. We’ve been through this rapid change before with the advent of computers in the classroom, data projectors, and cell phones. Through all this change, one constant remains the same: it’s the impact of a great educator, doing great things with the tools and resources available – one child at a time.
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