- Because my session proposal was declined
That’s the big reason. I submitted a proposal regarding digital portfolios for students with someone else, and it didn’t get accepted. The rest of this post contains secondary rationale for why I am not attending the International Society for Technology in Education convention in Denver this weekend. Let’s not forget this as I rant a bit later on.
- Because I am in-between positions
I recently accepted a new job as elementary principal in Mineral Point, WI. This involves not only a change in position but also a change in location. In hindsight, I am grateful that the session proposal did not get accepted. I could not imagine being away right now.
- Because I can learn from a distance
By following the #NotatISTE16 hashtag on Twitter and related social media, you can learn vicariously through attendees who are posting their takeaways from the convention. In addition, there are online spaces, such as Live Binders, set up by attendees to share their learning. It cannot be the same as being there, but it is better than the alternative.
- Because I would miss my family
Even though it is summer and most schools have been out for at least a week, it is hard to be away from home. This evening, we cooked out and had s’mores together. Nothing at the ISTE convention can match these rich, personal experiences. Our breaks as administrators in between school years are always too short. I am thankful for today.
I have been meandering to this point, because I am not sure how to phrase it. I was looking at the line up of sessions and workshops on the ISTE website: Digital forms, badge systems, tablets for primary students, writing technology grants. I had to remind myself that I was willing to make my way halfway across the country for this. I would be blogging from Denver if the convention committee thought my proposal was worthy.
Why the concerns? I think my reservations have much to do with the worthiness of educational conferences that focus on technology, instead of with technology. It seems like these types of events tend to put the cart before the horse. The best conference I ever attended had a sole focus on two things: Literacy and Leadership. Technology had a minor role, but it was certainly not in the lead. The influence this institute had on our team and subsequently the school as a learning organization is still visible today. Can a team that attends an ISTE convention or related experience make the same claim?
Even when schools attempt to integrate technology within instruction, it too rarely moves the needle when it comes to the instructional impact on student learning. I know, because we assessed ourselves as a school last year on digital citizenship and the 4Cs. We were emerging in these areas, across the board. This is after multiple years of embedding digital tools into our teaching and learning with thoughtfulness and intention.
For sake of transparency, I have never attended an ISTE convention. My point of view is from afar. I would be curious about other people’s opinions about this topic. Please share your thoughts in the comments.