ISTE 2017 Conference & Expo Recap

rachel kamb

A few members of the Committee for Children team had the privilege of attending the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference and Expo in San Antonio, Texas June 25–28. Rachel Kamb, a product manager here at Committee for Children, also presented a session with Gary Goldberger and Leigh Hallisey of FableVision Studios titled “Empathy Empowers: Digital Learning Strategies.”

Read Kamb’s review of ISTE 2017 as well as a summary of the session, below.

1. What are your top takeaways from, or trends you saw at, the ISTE 2017?

The ISTE Conference& Expo is the place to go if you want to know what’s hot in the EdTech world. This year, a few noticeable trends rose to the top (in my opinion!):

  • Tools to facilitate student collaboration and creativity—Companies like Google and Microsoft were conducting nonstop, filled-to-capacity workshops on how to use their collaborative and creative tools for students and teachers. It’s really exciting to see this trend in the shift from students as consumers of knowledge to creators of knowledge!
    Makerspaces—People love this stuff! But what’s not to love? These are hands-on spaces where students can create, explore, and discover using all kinds of tools and materials. Cool!
  • New professional learning models—Professional development is required for teachers. It is nice to see a real emphasis emerging on how it important it is to create professional development that engages and works!
  • Digital citizenship and medial literacy—I don’t think the conference planners anticipated how much interest there would be in this. A couple of sessions I tried to attend were filled to capacity! Although this has been a concern for a while, I think awareness has escalated with the current lack of civil discourse that has been growing since the 2016 presidential election.
  • Coding and computational thinking—Coding is becoming the new literacy. We will be sure to see coding, coding programs, and programming for even the youngest students.

2. Can you give a summary of the session you presented?

Our kids and students are spending a lot time in digital environments these days. A question we need to ask ourselves is: In digital environments, how are kids learning the social-emotional skills they need to be successful in school and in life?

Our presentation was on how we (Committee for Children) partnered with FableVision Studios to create a digital space where kids can learn social-emotional skills. This digital space is our free online game, ParkPals: Kindness Rules. This award-winning, free tablet game, geared toward second and third graders, sets kids in a virtual playground and gives them the responsibility to make compassionate choices. With built-in opportunities for failure and success, ParkPals is one example of the type of quality media Committee for Children and FableVision have worked hard to create to help kids understand how they can take ownership of creating a positive learning environment that is safe, respectful, welcoming, and supportive for everyone.

FableVision Studios is a multimedia studio that focuses on interactive media that inspire, teach, and move people to action. They are awesome!

3. What would you like to see at next year’s ISTE Conference & Expo?

I would love to see more content on digital citizenship, media literacy, as well as student and teacher wellness. The work we do at Committee for Children has a lot to contribute in these areas with our upcoming release of the new, digitally delivered version of the Second Step Middle School Program, and Mind Yeti, a mindfulness app for kids and their adults.