Key Takeaways from ISTE 2017

Lists, insights, goal setting, and perspective from an edtech solution-provider.

GUEST COLUMN | by Jon Roepke

iste-san-antonio.pngRiverwalk, The Alamo, robots and VR. Naturally, I had been looking forward to ISTE this year ever since last year’s conference wrapped. My team and I reviewed ISTE’s official “What to Expect at ISTE 2017” blog post beforehand and set out to follow it to a tee. (It’s a must read for all attendees!) Read on for the Belkin Education team’s collective takeaways from ISTE 2017.

From ISTE: Write down specific learning goals.

Belkin goals:

  1. Identify industry trends based on ISTE experience.
  2. Have meaningful conversations with new contacts about the education industry.
  3. Get a glimpse of San Antonio outside the convention center – Riverwalk and the Alamo gave the town meaningful context steeped in a rich and diverse history. Dinner with industry influencers at the Pearl Brewery set a beautiful background for insightful conversations.

As always, we decompress from ISTE by thinking about what the edtech industry looks like in 10 years.

From ISTE: Invest your time in meeting people.

  • We had dinner with Erin Flanagan, founder of Erintegration about the challenges of integrating technology into the classroom. Erin is focused on helping teachers by sharing resources, lesson plans, reviews and tips for using devices to engage digital learners. It was fascinating to talk to her about how to help sustain the growth of technology in the classroom and the importance of grassroots communication and collaboration amongst educators.
  • Who could miss little miss Tatum F, Nibletz’s 9-year old edtech reporter, who roamed the show floor playing with robots, virtual reality, coding kits, testing computers and other cool new gadgets, while interviewing attendees. She was the perfect representation of how we should all maintain a clear sense of who we are serving at the end of the day. Our students and children are the next generation of learners and tech experts, and it only makes sense that we continue to foster, teach and inspire them.
  • We met Emily Tate from EdScoop at our booth and chatted about the potential of interactive distance learning. Location agnostic learning will prosper, unlocking new learning experiences driven by mobile technology. Our partnership with the PORTS program sets a solid example of the potential of interactive distance learning.

Identify Industry Trends.

  • Coding as Literacy goes mainstream. A student’s physical world coupled with digital tools through manipulative tools gains traction when it comes to building out coding curriculum. We saw dozens of fun ways to integrate coding into the classroom, with companies such as littleBits showcasing dynamic integrations of coding and fun for students. Many coding kit companies are leveraging scratch (visual coding language), making it accessible and easy to use.
  • (More) Personalized Learning makes learning tailored to the student and individualized in nature, without forcing curriculum planning to become unwieldy or overwhelming. Big data plus predictive analytics has great potential to personalize learning and bring students up to speed in the areas where they are falling behind. Apps like Flipgrid, educreations and others are focusing on enabling the demonstration of student achievement. We noticed significant growth in this trend since last year’s ISTE conference.
  • Google Excitement & Market Expansion fuels growth to cement their success in the education space. With 70M G Suite education users and a dominating presence on the expo floor and in sessions, Google has developed strong professional development networks to ensure successful adoption and use of services. We checked out the Google sheets widget that allows users to type in a question relating to data, and Google figures out the answer automatically. 

As always, we decompress from ISTE by thinking about what the edtech industry looks like in 10 years. We leave you with a few thought starters:

  • Self-Directed Education. Enhanced digital learning tools will enable single-learner education tracks that optimize learning pace and content to maximize educational value to an individual.
  • Real World vs. Textbook. The context of education will focus on real-world applications that promote solving maker and coder projects that have an impact beyond the classroom. We’ll see more apprenticeship-type projects in K-12 that deliver real solutions to real problems.
  • Differentiated Instruction. Digital tools will enable seamless differentiated learning experiences to maximize student achievement.
  • Constant Communication. Taking lead from an “always-on” workforce, students will have additional learning influences outside of the classroom thanks to mobile devices, wearables and applications. PowerSchool demoed this in their “classroom of the future” session.

Until next year, see you all in Chicago!

Jon Roepke is the director of product management for Belkin International, Inc. He leads the creation and fulfillment of new business ventures, and helps define and develop technology solutions, including mobile apps and hardware for next-gen learning environments in partnership with Apple, Samsung, Google and other core technology leaders. Follow @Belkin

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