Welcome to ISTE 2015. I am so happy to be back in Philly for this amazing conference. It truly is a magical experience. Sure there are those little snafus that remind you exactly how small you are in the grand scheme of a national tech conference. Said no one ever, “I love it when the shuttle service overshoots both stops on its route. However, I am already having a blast and can’t wait to dive into tomorrow’s sessions.
Tonight got started with some great music from a band that traveled all the way from Winnipeg, Canada. Big City All Star Band was upbeat, fun, and had a set that had their audience singing, dancing, and clapping along.
Tonight’s opening kickoff was focused on transforming learning and access to learning via technology. Beginning with a brief opener from RaFranz Davis, an ignite presenter who revisited keypoints on insight into how technology can be used in schools to provide opportunities and instruments for diverse learners’ voices. “Don’t limit access to kids based on home lives that they have no control over.”
Then we heard from the infamous Lord Jim Knight who spoke about the current obstacles in education. He challenged us to figure out how to get past the “formalities.” His most prolific quote of the night was, “There’s a lot of fussing over assessments, but what makes the difference are the teachers.”
Finally, we enjoyed a keynote from Soledad O’Brien. O’Brien shared a vision of technology leveling the playing field for all students; regardless of economic status, gender, geography, etc. She demonstrated how Google Expeditions might be used to provide all students with opportunities to explore and learn. Soledad ended her presentation with a poignant quote, reaffirming the earlier position of Lord Jim Knight, ” Do not ever give up on kids who need you. It is never about technology, it is about problems and dilemmas we can solve.”
This package of presenters ignited a spark that will carry me through this conference searching for the tools, ideas, and educators that will enable me to engage all learners in their third grade learning and hopefully provide a spark that matures into a fire for lifelong learning.