Sunday, July 7, 2019

2019 ISTE Reflection: Amplifying Learning

The deluge of stimuli at ISTE is overwhelming even for a veteran like myself. There isn’t a minute of the day (or night) when there isn’t something in which to immerse yourself. For me, ISTE is the ultimate professional development conference to catch up on the latest in EdTech, collaborate with old and new friends, and to spend time with my people.

ISTE is a conference from which you will emerge seeped in a wealth of knowledge even if you never make it to even one of the 1811 sessions. My favorite learning opportunity every year is the Librarians Network Playground. The Playground provides learners with 44 different walk up sessions in the span of just 3.5 hours. The thing I love most about the Playground is the ability to access information in an informal way that lends itself to a more personalized experience.

One session that blew my mind was, Cellverse: Virtual Reality for Cellular Biology. MIT Step Labs introduced their new virtual reality learning projects through CLEVR: Collaborative Learning Environments in Virtual Reality. CLEVR allows students to examine a cell from the inside with a 360 degree view. Along their journey in the cell assignments and guides pop up on clipboards. Taking this learning experience one step further, CLEVR also pairs these journey in the cell with lessons based around specific diseases like cystic fibrosis so that students can see the variations in cells from one disease to the other. This experience brings a much deeper and longer lasting understanding of cells than a labeled cell cake!

If you have never attended a session presented by the Justice League of EdTech Superheroes, Adam Bellow, Colleen Graves, Sherry Gick, Steve Dembo, Nicholas Provenzano, Michael Medvinsky, and friends set up a Google alert now on where to find their next presentation. Last year they presented their favorite new edtech through a Let’s Make a Deal style presentation. This year attendees were treated to a Battle of the EdTech Stars. Audience member participation determined whether the edtech presented by the Red Team or the Blue Team won each battle round. Attendees were also treated to free subscriptions or the actual product for playing the game.

The ISTE Librarians Network Breakfast Keynote was perhaps the highlight of my learning experience at ISTE this year, as it always is. The ISTE Librarians Network has a strong history of securing dynamic Keynote speakers and this year was particularly amazing. As an ardent advocate for student voice I knew that, as ISTE Librarians Network President, I had to get Olivia Van Ledtje (@TheLivBits) and her mother Cynthia Merrill to be the 2019 Keynote speakers. Liv and her mother shared their personal experiences and journey through harnessing the power of social media for empowering students to claim and share their stories. To learn more about their message and how you can start empowering student voice in your school be sure to check out Liv and Cynthia’s new book, Spark Change: Making Your Mark in a Digital World.

These are just four sessions I was able to participate in while at ISTE this year. I have spent a good portion of the two days since returning from ISTE going through the program and collecting resources from sessions I attended as well as those I was interested in attending but simply couldn’t fit in my schedule. So far I have curated 32 resources that I want to go back and examine closer.

The best thing about ISTE is that the learning continues all year long through the webinars and interactive communities provided by each of the ISTE Networks. I’d encourage you to check out the ISTE Librarians Network website for news, updates, and upcoming webinars as well as checking out past webinars. Be sure to also connect with the ISTE Librarians Network on Facebook and Twitter.

Works Cited

3:16, Everything Fondant! “Making an Animal Cell Model Using Cake & Fondant! Great for
     School Science Projects!” YouTube, YouTube, 4 Feb. 2017,

“CLEVR: Collaborative Learning Environments in Virtual Reality.” MIT Scheller Teacher Education 
     Program, 26 June 2019,

“EdTech Conference | Philadelphia, June 23-26.” ISTE19,

“EdTech Conference | Philadelphia, June 23-26.” ISTE19,

“ISTE 2019 Digital Toolbox Links.” Google Sheets, Google,

“ISTE Librarians Network.” ISTE Librarians Network,

“ISTE Librarians Network.” ISTE Librarians Network Public Group,

“Librarians Network.” Librarians Network - ISTE Connect,

“The LivBits.” The LivBits,

PLN, ISTE Librarians. “ISTE Librarians PLN (@Istelib).” Twitter, Twitter, 13 June 2019,

“Program Search.” ISTE19,

“Session Times 2019 Librarians Network Playground.” Google Slides, Google,

“Spark Change: Making Your Mark in a Digital World.” Amazon, Amazon, 22 July 2019,