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ISTE 2014 Conference Draws CCNMTL Educational Technologists

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ISTE2014
Dan Beeby, Sarohini Chahal, Kenny Hirschmann, and Ellen Maleszewski of CCNMTL attended this year’s International Society for Technology and Education conference at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA June 28 - July 1, 2014.

CCNMTL staff attended primarily to guide faculty from the eLearning Faculty Fellowship, but were also able to take in the conference. They focused primarily on the “Expo Floor”, though there were also workshops and keynotes running chock-a-block during this four-day event. Nearly 500 vendors were showcasing products as various as security systems, robots, router hardware, and educational software. This latter category represented the bulk of the vendors. Big companies like Pearson, Microsoft, and Edmodo occupied the largest booths at the front of the expo and were there to inspire visitors with their innovations in the educational space. Smaller companies brought their cutting-edge work and were just as impressive.

Several vendors stood out among their peers. Canvas indicated that they’re launching a new polling/ARS system within their LMS product, which looks very promising. Vendors like Doceri and AirSquirrels continue to innovate in the desktop-mirroring-annotation (a.k.a. “SmartBoard replacement”) category. The preview from Google’s representatives of their new Classroom platform utilizing Google Drive/Google Docs indicates that they’ve developed a compelling “workflow” system for the paperless classroom. Despite its cost, Softchalk wowed participants as a soup-to-nuts publishing environment. Tackk offered a lightweight, elegant “one page” webpage creation platform, which some attendees thought would be a good tool for students’ final projects or simple portfolios. The “Knerds” from Knew-York-based, Knewton was showing off its collaboration with large vendors like Pearson in which they “mine” the common core texts that many school districts use to come up with near-artificial-intelligence assessments that “micro differentiate” students as they read (this was interesting, but perhaps not particularly applicable to the more esoteric texts that are used in higher education). Curriculet (Smarter Reading, Deeper Learning) and WriterKey offered two different takes on interactive reading (with annotation) and peer-led writing evaluation.

The conference was worthwhile (especially the conference’s expo floor) for getting a glimpse at the innovations in educational technology and discussing these with the vendors. ISTE 2015 takes place in Philadelphia next year and staff are already looking forward to participating.

Related news:
Apr-09-2014: Faculty from Jewish Higher Ed Institutions Showcase Ed Tech Projects
Jun-26-2013: Exploring Digital Tools for Jewish Education and Scholarship
Apr-22-2013: CCNMTL to Collaborate with Jewish Higher Ed Institutions on eLearning Faculty Fellowship