Wednesday, July 6, 2016

ISTE 2016 Round Up!

I had the good fortune to attend the annual ISTE conference this past June out in Denver.  ISTE is a great educational technology focused conference to attend every so often to keep a good pulse on what's coming/going/successful in the world of technology integration.  This year, I was able to attend as one of two Wisconsin ISTE "Making IT Happen" award winners.  We were able to attend a nice luncheon along with other award winners from across the country.

With fellow Wisconsin "Making IT Happen" Award Winner, Kaye Henrickson

The rest of this blog post is going to highlight some things I saw or learned about while at ISTE that I want to share with other educators.


I attended a great session on day 1 that shared out about Augmented Reality by Matt McGuire from Canada.  I appreciated his analogy that "Augmented Reality" is like when you are watching an NFL game and you see the yellow 'first down line' or the '2nd and 10' marker on the field. Those items aren't really there -- that's augmented reality. You're looking at reality through a lens and something else is there.  AR is like a fancy QR code where something in the scene you're looking at is the 'trigger' for something else to happen.  I'm familiar with AR and this is nothing new, but he shared some great apps and examples of where AR is being used in education that I will reference below.  One company that is making a lot of these apps is Daqri. Here's an overview video of their products to get a better sense of AR if you are interested.
  • Elements 4D (iOS | Android) - print out and create physical cube nets of the periodic elements. Use your tablet or phone and in the app, when you look at those cubes and put them together, you will see visual of what's happening.  See a chemical reaction happen! See the weight and other characteristics.  Free! Go download it and try it out.
Example of Elements 4D being used on a tablet to show chemical reactions happening.
  • Anatomy (iOS | Android) - See the parts of the body laid out and manipulatable on your tablet or phone.  Point your device at a special print out and see the anatomy come to life.
  • Enchantium (iOS | Android) - Print out little circle discs and using this app, you can see 'strings' you can pluck on your device to make certain sounds and chords. Very cool. Here's a sample video if you want to see how this works.
  • AR Flash Cards (iOS | Android) - print out animal flash cards and lay on the table. Use the app and hover over them and you will see animals appear on screen. Tap the animals to hear the sounds they make. Good for younger ages.
  • Quiver Vision - print out and color some pages and then use the app to see those things come to life.  Create your own flag. Design your own sneaker. 

He mentioned other apps to look into and there are more in his presentation if this interests you.  My wonder coming away from this is -- now that Android Apps will work on Chromebooks, would these work well in a Chromebook classroom?  Some friends at ISTE did some digging and don't think this will work just yet as the camera on a Chromebook doesn't react the same as a rear-facing camera of a phone or tablet, but I have to believe this is coming along soon.


Google for Edu made (4) great announcements at ISTE (blog post here).  Here's a quick summary of my thoughts on this as I was able to see some of this used while at ISTE.
  • Expeditions App is now live! We were able to have Google Expeditions visit us this past spring while they were traveling around trying out Expeditions with classrooms.  I'm very excited that the app is now out there for anyone to download. I'm anxiously awaiting the ability to CREATE your own expeditions with words, visuals and audio.  A teacher being able to make their own expedition will be amazing!  With this announcement, Best Buy for Education is now also selling Expeditions 'kits' that classes can purchase which come with devices, headsets, a teacher tablet, carrying case and router.  I know some educators that have pieced together their own kits and this price for a 30 kit ($10k) seems a little high to me.  My guess is there will be more partners that release kits in the coming months and competition is a good thing.
  • GoogleCast for Edu - I am an avid Chromecast user at home. I love being able to fling something I'm watching on my device up onto the TV.  This announcement now makes this easier to do in the classroom and you don't even need a Chromecast! All you need is the GoogleCast for Edu app installed in your browser.  You can then invite students to 'cast' their screens to your computer (with your computer being connected to the projector).  Great for letting students take the lead in sharing and learning!  Intro video below explains how this works.

  • Google Forms adds Quizzes! So we've all created some quizzes using a Google Form, but the process to grade usually involves using an Add-On.  Well, Google for Edu now built in some features to Forms to make quizzes more of an easy reality. This is great for formative assessments where you just want to do a quick check for understanding.  Here's a blog post from Jeff Herb that outlines how to build a quiz in Google Forms.
  • Bundled Creative Apps!  Google for Edu is now working with other developers to bundle together apps at discounted prices for Edu.  The first package of apps contains Explain Everything (diagraming, explaining, recording), WeVideo (video editing, movie making) and SoundTrap (audio editing, podcasting, music recording).  All 3 are great creation apps that will help take students' ideas further.  Video below is an example from a middle school that worked with these apps.  What does this mean for your classroom? Well, hopefully more student choice. You'll have to talk to your tech director or administrator that handles the finances to figure out if your school or district can purchase these apps but this is a great step in the right direction for more solid creative choices on Chromebooks. 

I was also able to attend a Google Partner session and Google Trainer session where some other information was shared about what's coming, but I'm under NDA to not share that information until Google announces it themselves.  More cool stuff is coming!


I attended some sessions on Digital Citizenship in the hopes of finding some more good examples or models to follow for how to teach children to be responsible online.  Some good discussion came from these sessions and a few resources I will link below.  Here are some of my takeaways:
  • We are very good at telling kids what they can't and shouldn't do online. How do we change the conversation to really have them be a citizen instead of just covering the etiquette?
  • We all 'rent' space online when we use services like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat.  Unless you purchase your own domain name and build a website (i.e., you don't really have any 'land' online that is yours to control.  This analogy was shared by Dean Shareski and I appreciate how he views having space online. (Dean's Slides)
  • Dean shared some great videos I had not seen before that would be good to incorporate into lessons on digital citizenship:
    • Sincere Compliment - story about a student who started a social media account to boost others up.  Great to build community at a school.
  • Attended another digital citizenship panel. This site by Jason Ohler has lots of resources I plan to dig through a little more.


I also dug a little bit more into Learning Management Systems. We use Moodle in my district and I was curious about some of the features of some others as I see more and more classes going online and blended.

While at ISTE, I was video interviewed by Sean Cavanagh about challenges with tech in the classroom for Education Week (original post).  The video is below.

To round things out, I also poked and prodded into other tools out there that will help us streamline some efficiencies in our district so we can route 'digital forms' better or steal some time back from our current paper processes.  Nothing big to share there yet as I'm still on that quest.

Thanks for reading - I hope I was able to share some things with you that might impact your classroom.  Please comment back if this impacted you in anyway.  #Impact.