Weeknotes 4 July 2010: ISTE 2010

Living beside the sea on the sunny and (relatively rain free) east coast of Scotland means that on most Sunday mornings I can play golf. I was up as usual just before 6.30 but the rain was just too heavy for me today so a good opportunity to get back into blogging.

It is hard to believe that last Sunday morning I was in transit between San Jose and Denver, having spent some time at Cisco’s corporate HQ, on my way to the ISTE 2010 Conference.

I have attended the ISTE annual conference in the past (when it was called NECC) – New Orleans 2004,  San Antonio 2002 and Chicago 2001. There are usually around 15,000 delegates at the event who  enjoy a substantial seminar programme and the usual educational technology vendor exhibition. The ISTE  delegates have been the pioneers of educational technology over the last 31 years – leading classroom innovation and managing technology for learning at a local level.

The opening keynote ‘Global Problem Solving and the Critical Role of Educators and Technology for Education’ was from Jean-François Rischard, former vp of the World Bank and author of ‘High Noon’ stated the conference with a profound message:
“We need two things on this beleaguered planet: 1) a new methodology for global problem-solving, that is, one that will help us navigate the very challenging decades ahead, and 2) a new mindset in the next generation…one rooted in a strong sense of being foremost a global citizen. With the global credit crisis not yet over, society still has more than 20 burning global problems on our hands that must get resolved within the next 20 years, if we are to avoid the massive and adverse planetary consequences many of them bring in their tow.”

Not the usual opening keynote but one that certainly made me think. Especially as we were sitting in an air conditioned convention centre, a mile above sea level with the temperature outside at 35C. The US has 5% of the world’s population and uses 25% of it’s resources. As for my own carbon footprint flying there and back, certainly not part of a sustainable future!

Other highlights for me included listening to a discussion on how to improve US school education at a time when funding was under considerable pressure – the answer look for innovative solutions beyond the US. Glow Scotland was cited by Bob Regan of Adobe as approach that the US should consider adopting.

Happy to advise … 🙂

I was interested to listen to a delegation from Australia who had been on a fact finding mission to the US and Canada. At a time when Australia is implementing a national curriculum they noted how US schools had significant democratic control at the local level. However, compared with Australian schools they often lacked systemic policy drivers, had inconsistent priorities and access to broadband connectivity was very patchy. Sounds very familiar to me …

Attended a couple of sessions on open source software in education that made me think. Still need to do some work on perceptions – why do people think of bug-ridden, unsupported code and not Google’s servers and most of the internet when they think open source?

Alan November spoke with great passion, panache and humour on the need to teach empathy in schools.  It’s been a while since I listened to Alan and I was impressed with how his thinking has developed over the last few years. He had become a bit too preachy for me – the underlying message of his presentations seemed to be that teachers were failing in their responsibilities if they didn’t use blogs and wikis all the time. It’s one thing to be challenging but the last thing teachers need is to be sent on a guilt trip when they go to hear an inspirational speaker. This time round I got no sense of that hectoring style and felt he was right back to his very best. His spotlight session brought fresh insights into the world of digital literacy and he was back on track driving forward a values based agenda for learning with great style.

The rain has eased off for a while and having looked at the WeatherPro HD satellite picture on my iPad  it could be a good time  to take the dog for a walk along the beach. Not quite as awe inspiring as the Pacific coast at Big Sur or watching the pelicans dive for fish off the beach at Santa Cruz. Lovely places to visit but the Firth of Tay at Broughty Ferry is still a pretty spectacular place and I’m very happy to call it home.

Related Posts


  1. Having worked with Alan quite closely since 2007 I can vouch for his own growing empathy for the receivers of his [vital] messages – and it’s worth remembering that he, too, doesn’t blog or use wikis *that* much in sharing his learning. He does that thanks to the luxury of meeting thousands of educators every year face-to-face. Most educators don’t have that opportunity.

    Which then brought me to something related I caught on Stephen Downes’ blog today:

    “”Neil Selwyn argues, “Outside of the narrow ‘Ed-Tech bubble’ very few people are engaging with these discussions. We therefore need to move beyond self-referential self-congratulation and stimulate a new phase of discussion, dialogue and conversation about what social media is – and what social media could be – with everyone involved in education.” Perhaps. Or it could be that people outside the narrow ‘Ed-Tech bubble’ aren’t informed, don’t know about the new technologies, and won’t be a significant part of the future of education. This is especially the case is, contra Selwyn, the future of education means something other than fixed curricula and traditional methods.””

    A hector, or an interesting take on where some of the most important discussions are actually happening? I’m genuinely not sure.

  2. Thoughtful comment as ever Ewan. I agree about Alan’s ‘vital’ messages and delighted about his growing empathy it was palpable at ISTE2010. Think he is a great guy and a wonderful communicator.

    We all have to be careful about how our messages are received. Nothing more off-putting than a bunch of self-appointed ed-tech ‘illuminati’ congratulating themselves on how clever they are and by implication how stupid everybody else is 🙂