Sunday, July 03, 2016

Reflections on ISTE 2016 in Denver, Colorado

It's been my annual habit since 2005 to reflect upon the goings-on at the annual conference of the International Society for Technology in Education. This year I am continuing the tradition. The following will be a rambling, first person, eyewitness account of events in Denver that'll mix the personal with the professional, opinion with fact, and observation with reflection. I'm making this stuff up, as are we all.

During this year's conference, I...
  1. experienced my final day as Associate Virtualization Engineer at MNPS Virtual School, a story in itself,
  2. led the most successful Virtual Environments Playground ever, and saw the partnership with the Games & Simulations Network function like clockwork to share learning, playing, and teaching in innovative ways,
  3. made several real connections that will help bolster my severely reduced income and lead me to help promote technology in education in meaningful ways,
  4. explored Denver, mostly its world-class food, with my peeps;
First:
This year's "moneyshot" from the annual meeting of ISTE VEN

Above, witness a special group of thought-leader educators who have more fun than most. The Playground on Tuesday, 2-5pm, was arguably the very best ever. See my June 21 post for that schedule. In addition to the ongoing "main stage" presentations, the tables saw consistent conversations and demonstrations that were unfailingly informational, upbeat, and helpful. Mary Howard, center above, bugged me a couple times, "What are you actually doing? You're just wandering around looking important." I guess it looked like that, but wrangling the mainstage to make sure we stayed on schedule, taking pics (with Rosie Vojtek's iPhone mostly), and Periscoping as much of the events as I could kept me busy. The layout of the Playground had two main stages, one at either end of the space, with flatpanels for presentation. This year we chose not to compete with on another with concurrent events, alternating presenters for each PLN. I was able during the keynote talk by Cynthia Colongne to bring her talk up in on the flatpanel down at the distant far end, Periscoping it up at the main stage, connecting my iPad down at the far display with a Periscope viewer on the iPad. Mash-up heaven, y'all.

Okay, here we go, more or less linearly:
Day 1, Thursday: I arrived in Denver's airport around two hours late on Thursday, June 23. It was wicked hot below us from Nashville to Denver, and we had repeatedly hit microbursts of heat along the way, resulting in the poor young mother next to me totally freaking out each time. The worst was yet to come, as our Southwest pilot made not one, not two, but three landing attempts, hitting ugly turbulence and pulling out each time. We never really got close enough to really call them landing attempts. Maybe "descent attempts" would be closer to the right nomenclature. At any rate, after the 3rd failed attempt he announced that we didn't' have enough fuel to circle in the hopes that we would wait out the turbulence, and that we were on the way to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Landing safely there we sat on the sunny tarmac of this tiny airport with the door open as we refueled, four other planes ahead of us in that queue. Once we had achieved a full load of jet fuel, we taxied, took off, and landed safely in Denver with little turbulence at all.

I took the train to Baggage Claim, got luggage without incident, and caught another train into downtown Denver, where my bro-in-law, Jim, picked me up outside of Union Station. Soon we were at my first Denver gnosh, fish tacos at The Pioneer, near his home. Soon after that we drove the 6 blocks or so home, to Grey Gables:
Grey Gables, est. 1887
Grey Gables, circa 1889
This was Elizabeth Iliff's (founder of Iliff School of Theology, later DU) home and is right off Observatory Park in lovely South Denver. More on that later. We stayed up a while and retired.






Day2, Friday: I woke up early, taking Ginger, the beautiful Golden Retriever,

off on a walk through the neighborhood before heading off into the first 1 mile walk of many to come. I took off west toward the University of Denver and past it, to to the DU light rail station. Walking through that campus was a joy every time. It's beautiful, and also empty of students this week, so I pretty much had it all to myself every time I walked or biked through it. Later I played around with Periscope, 'scoping several "Walking Ginger in Denver" episodes. Kinda fun. I was using those walks to practice for the 'scoping I would do at the ISTE conference. Check out all my Periscopes.

I bought my ticket from the vendor machine at the University of Denver light rail stop, hopped aboard, and went to the CCC, the Colorado Convention Center.
Spire and stands at the DU soccer field




I had arrived.

I couldn't get into the CCC yet, so I strolled around downtown for a while, landing in Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company for the first lunch, delicious clam chowder and a Caesar salad. Yum.

Coming out of lunch, I ran into my dear friend Kecia Ray, who was hosting ISTE for an unprecedented fourth year in a row. She was with Dallas Dance, a fellow board member, and after hugs and chat we parted, but not before Kecia had offered access to her penthouse room for breaks and where I could be able to stash gear I didn't want to be hauling around all day during the conference. She's the best. I took advantage of this offer several times, and it helped both my back and my feet, all of which always suffer at these things--miles to walk every day, not even taking into consideration getting to and from the train station!

I think I'll go ahead and post this, continuing later! I'm off to explore the environs with my bro-in-law. More later!

Day 3, Saturday:  I was up early and at the train station and took a minute to take my first pano of the trip, uploading it to Facebook. I was amazed to see that when it was posted it wasn't the short and wide still version, but when I viewed it on my phone it was actually interactively 3D!

In, registered, and with my Presenter ribbon mounted on my nametag, I got my first hug from Louise Maine, who was working the greeting station. I resolved to chronicle those hugs and of course stopped doing so after a dozen or so, but here's the starter list from that botched effort, copied from iPhone Notes:
Louise Maine
Kathy Schrock
Jill Brown
Lee Zeitz
Steve Hargadon
Barbara Bray
Vickie Davis
Coleen Kimball
Gordon Dahlby
Susan Larson
Kecia Ray
Jan Zanetis
Will Richardson
Mary Howard
Andy Wheelock
Sandy Wagner
Jessica Medaille
Cathy Cavanaugh
Barbara Seaton
and, and, and...
  That's the point of this conference, actually--hug collection. There were many, many more. You know who you are!

First stop, Hack Education! This "unconference" has blossomed from "EduBlogger Con" which was initiated in 2010, the brainchild of the stellar edublogger Steve Hargadon. From 8:30 to 4pm the pre-conference Saturday of ISTE, hundreds of thought leaders meet and many of them propose discussion topics. These are posted on the walls and attendees then commit to one of them by initialing the sheet, votes are counted, and however many discussions there are meeting spaces for are announced, and discussions ensue. Lunch break. Another session. and another session. This year there was an additional space for every proposed leader whose session was not chosen, where they could go and have the topic/discussion for whomever showed up. Here's a pano of the room (note the topics on the wall), and I periscoped the opening remarks, which you can view here.


I ran over to Bubba Gump's again, this time with Andy Wheelock, my brother-from-another-mother (I have several of those, don'tcha know). Then we headed back and I dived into a three hour paid session led by the amazing Will Richardson. This session:

Creating a Modern Vision for Teaching and Learning With Technology (WH022)

[Explore and create : Workshop]

Saturday, June 25, 12:30–3:30 pm
Hyatt Regency Hyatt Regency Capitol Ballroom 7

favoritesWill Richardson  
All too often, educators implement technology into their classrooms and schools without a clear, compelling vision for its use. As a result, little or nothing really changes in terms of the learning interaction for students. We'll take a look at how to build a vision that transforms, not just digitizes, learning.

Will pretty much held forth for the entire 3 hours, and I could have done 3 more. The core of the session was that we need to align our beliefs about what powerful learning is with our practices. Here's a graphic that I put together from Will's work that he shared to help hammer the point (with apologies for the unclosed quote):
I have just simply had too much fun in Denver with my in-laws and my honey. I do promise I'll be completing this thang next week, the week of July 11! I have copious notes and my memory box is still working pretty darned well. For now, last night the Denver Rockies demolished the Philadelphia Phillies 11-2 on a beautiful, if a bit sweaty, evening at Coors Field. Here are two panos:

I promise!


PLACEHOLDER--WILL BE CONTINUED AND UPDATED UNTIL COMPLETE!



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