What an incredible journey! With an estimated 20,000 attendees, ISTE 2013 was easily the biggest educational event I have ever attended. The San Antonio Convention Centre was awe-inspiring; it was truly a conference that lived up to expectations. ISTE attendees were so passionate about the power of technology to transform teaching and learning, we left inspired to change the world.
And it was fitting that the closing keynote speaker Adam Bellow named his speech “Change the World” because it was something that ISTE attendees are already doing. “Since I was 3, I’ve wanted to change the world,” Bellow said. “So I became a teacher, because teachers do that every day.”
Throughout Bellow’s address, he described the ways that technology engages students in learning. Early in his career, he would ask students to write a report on the Globe Theater. Today, using technology tools such as MineKeeper, students can take what they learn from their research and build an actual replica of the historic venue. With tools such has Raspberry Pi, even the youngest learners are also creating their own games, musical instruments and more. Learning this way, according to Bellow, is the difference between learning how to eat and learning how to cook.
Yet, he said, today’s education world is faced with troubling dichotomies, such as:
- We celebrate students as “makers” because of inexpensive technology tools and then evaluate them with standardized tests.
- Schools block Facebook access for students but have their own school Facebook pages.
Bellow attributes these contradictions in behavior to fear and advocates for schools to embrace more of a “startup culture.” This doesn’t mean that they need cool décor and video games, but rather that they should become environments that “respect failure, embrace curiosity and grow dreams.”
Bellow concluded with some food for thought for all ISTE attendees: “Nothing is impossible. This is an army here. We must lead the way. It is not about technology. It is about us. If you believe you can change the world, you will. »
Although I was unable to attend Bellow’s keynote address in person, it was apparent that his powerful message inspired all of us to return home and continue to change the world.
ISTE Closing Keynote Adam Bellow
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