Hack The Classroom And More Quick EdTech Tips And Insight From ISTE 2016

Bob Nilsson Director, Vertical Solutions Marketing Published 6 Jul 2016

Apps, Tools, Tips You Can Take to Class Tomorrow

The ISTE conference is a great place to pick up advice from EdTech peers, innovators, and keynoters. Here is a curated collection of tips from this year’s get together in Denver. Free versions are available of all the software listed below. While I have no stake in any these companies, I can suggest which network infrastructure will make them all work best in your classroom.

Free Content Resources and OER

Leslie Fisher, who featured prominently in the responses to our survey, “How Do Innovators Stay Innovative?” shared tips during her session. PBS Learning Media is a partnership with WGBH that provides 120,000 free resources for PreK-12 educators with support materials, questions, and lesson plans. EDpuzzle is an easy and convenient way to edit videos, audio, and insert audio notes. It offers a means to add quiz questions so you can track student progress. Start with any videos, from Khan Academy, YouTube, or your own creations.

Formative Assessment

Tracking student comprehension during classroom lessons is a vital part of personalized learning. There are ad hoc approaches for this including Google Forms, but tuned and tested products can really help. Formative is one that makes it quick and simple to create online graphical assessments and homework assignments.

Looking for more help with online assessments? The presentation, Make Online Assessments Work For You, includes descriptions of and links to five online assessment tools (Kahoot, Google Forms, Quizalize, Edulastic, and the aforementioned Formative).

Sharing Content

Seesaw greatly helps in conveying content to and from BYOD devices. It enables annotation, sorting by user, and can draw in parents, as well.

During Nick Clayton’s excellent talk on VR Field Trips in the Classroom, he recommended Buncee for creating interactive lessons and multimedia presentations, flipping the classrooms, and turning experiences and lessons into multimedia digital stories. Nick also shared VR Favs, a broad set of virtual reality bookmarks.

A suggestion to help foster a STEM culture came from Ignite session presenter Ben Smith. He lets students patent their good ideas so that other students can license them in their own class and homework. He has found that by allowing students to revise their homework, even after it is submitted, they actually tend to turn assignments in early.

 LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton shared why he moved Reading Rainbow to the digital world – “that’s where kids are.” The Reading Rainbow Skybrary Family is an interactive library of digital books and video explorations designed to engage young readers and foster a love of learning.

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The room was packed for the talk by Dr. Maureen Brown Yoder, Professor of Educational Technology at Lesley University: 10 Promising Technologies And Trends To Inspire Creativity And Enhance Your Teaching. Among the technologies are virtual reality, augmented reality, drones, 3D printing, robots, and wearables.


CUE Steampunk Playground Conference attendees learned how robots, drones, programming tools and more encourage creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication and coding and how they can be incorporated into their curricula.

Hadi Partovi, founder of Code.org and the international Hour of Code campaign, brought along a companion. He strongly urged that, “Every school should teach computer science”.

Ruha Benjamin, Assistant Professor in Princeton’s Department of African American Studies in the interdisciplinary study of science, medicine, and biotechnology, race-ethnicity and gender, health and biopolitics delivered the keynote, Set Phasers to Love Me – Reimagining the Default Settings of Technology & Society. Ruha described examples of how students are not all afforded equal opportunities in schools and proposed that technology can either fix or worsen the inequities. One aspect of this is algorithmic discrimination. She suggests that our schools could become laboratories of democratic innovation; a concept that can be perceived as dangerous, which may be why the teaching profession is constantly under attack. Teachers can change the direction of history.

Referring to the phenomenon wherein people of different backgrounds change the way they communicate depending upon their audience, known as code switching; Ruha implores us not to code switch, but rather rewrite the codes. Don’t lean in, stretch out – a reference to the book by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

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