Having recently returned from ISTE 2014, I find myself in a constant state of reflection on exactly what comes next for educational technology. ISTE is so huge an event it is difficult to avoid being overwhelmed, both by the sheer number of ideas that come at you, but more importantly by the sense of possibilities with which you are confronted. As a person who has studied the role of technology in transforming education for nearly 20 years, I sometimes have little patience for ideas/products/methods which struggle to get past superficial contributions to the cause – and unfortunately, in my opinion, there does seem to be much of that. That said, I was also reminded that everyone is in a different place and needs different supports to help them to succeed in their learning. This is true as well for teachers as learners. While I may look at some ideas as failing to get past superficial contributions to the learning experience, sometimes those experiences are an important step in the learning process for teachers, helping them to build confidence and develop skills which will gradually take them farther along the transformation continuum.
The challenge as a district leader is how to cut through the vastness of it all and be able to focus energy and ultimately resources on those things which successfully support teachers through all stages of that continuum. Now, multiply the variables in that problem by way of rapid technology change – next year’s ISTE will have an entirely NEW set of possibilities, perhaps even before we have had an opportunity to understand the old ones! It all adds up to the need to identify key focus areas, priorities, trends, whatever you prefer to call them – and then invest energy in developing knowledge in those areas. For me, I come away from ISTE 2014 with a renewed energy to understand the latest ideas in these key areas:
- Technology facilitated professional development models
- Big Data
- Technology enabled assessment
Each of these areas surely represent entire fields of study on their own. But as I enter the summer I plan to spend some of my time reading, exploring and hopefully understanding the issues and possibilities in these areas. As I learn I commit to posting my reflections on each of these topics to stimulate further discussion in SD43.