What I Like (So Far):
- Roundtables: These are rooms with 4 - 8 simultaneous conversations. It's a chance for people to present some research or pose a question with a few people interested in the same topic. This is a great opportunity to present dissertations or very specialized items of interest. The only downside is that the rooms are a little noisy.
- Poster Sessions: This is a lot like an electrified science fair. Every three hours, a new group of presenters sets up their presentations. The sessions are organized by topic, e.g. early childhood, STEM, English language learners. There are even students presenting EdTech projects. It's a little crazy to walk around in, but it's a great opportunity to showcase how technology is being used by different areas.
What I Don't Like (So Far):
- It's All About the Stuff: There appear to be no conversations or sessions that are focused on instruction. It's all tools all the time. Yes, I do know that I'm at a technology conference, but I don't think that excuses people from just reeling off one tool after another. There is no connection to a "So what?"
- Teachers Who Don't Prepare: I am the first to admit that when I made a jump from working with kids to working with adults as learners that I didn't know what the hell I was doing. Sure, there are some similarities, but there are also unique needs for every group. I saw a presentation today consisting of running through a series of spreadsheets---there was obviously no thought as to audience needs or organizing a message. The presenter had not tested the tech being presented and there were major errors and gaps along the way. If you are selected to present, take the time to create a quality learning experience for others.
The Score (So Far)
At this point, I would say that if you're looking for a national conference to go to...and want to see technology in action...I would make a beeline for ASCD. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not go to ISTE. If you're serious about classroom instruction, this does not appear to be the right place to get support.
Tomorrow, I'm exploring the exhibit hall and attending a few more sessions. Maybe ISTE will wow me then.