Saturday, July 8, 2017

My ISTE 2017 Reflections

I just got back from attending the ISTE conference in San Antonio, Texas. It had been eight years since I attended an ISTE conference, and I had forgotten how massive of a gathering it is. My friend and colleague, Tracey Wong (@TraceyCarayol), had put in for us to present at the conference, and we were so excited to have another chance to speak together. We were also very fortunate to have the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Travel Program (MIEExpert) approve to send us to the conference since our session was accepted!

Huge Conference

Words can't describe how large of a conference ISTE has grown to be. We were told that approximately 21,000 were in attendance at the event. I enjoyed how many options there were for sessions. They offered breakout sessions, poster sessions, technology playgrounds, and the largest expo exhibits area I have ever experienced in my life. There was so much to do and see that I was constantly overwhelmed. For the remainder of the article, I want to share some of the highlights I learned about.


I'm so grateful to Karey Killian for arranging several of us to visit an after hours demonstration of Lifeliqe's virtual reality and augmented reality products. Karey is a teacher librarian and MIEExpert in Pennsylvania. I was able to view their 3D app, and I was amazed at the quality of the animation. The real treat for me was my first experience with wearing a virtual reality viewer and experiencing their immersive software environment. I was able to view the International Space Station, an animated horse, and much more. It was so amazing to be transported to another place while wearing the viewing appliance. I truly hope to add something like this to the school library innovation space this year.


While at the Lifeliqe demonstration, I was also able to try the Microsoft Hololens for the first time. This tool provided me with a mixed reality environment. I could still see what was happening in the room while being able to view 3D objects through the Hololens appliance. I liked it because there were no cables or controls hanging from the device. I could simply make motions in the air with my hands to select the 3D objects. It was amazing!

Microsoft Translator

I have used Skype Translator several times in the past. While at ISTE, I attended a special focus group for a new product by Microsoft called Translator. This is a stand alone app or web-based tool that users can have to translate their messages to individuals or groups. I was very intrigued by the possibilities of this product, and I plan to use it this school year!

Makerspace Points from Laura Fleming

I have followed Laura Fleming (@LFlemingEDU) for quite a long time on social media. She is a teacher librarian in New Jersey and is well known for her makerspace innovations. I was very delighted to meet her at ISTE, and I also attended one of her sessions. She discussed her journey of creating a school library makerspace. My biggest takeaway from her session is that no two makerspaces are alike; we must create them based on the needs of students and the learning community.

Future Ready Libraries

I was super excited to have the opportunity to participate in a TLChat Live session with Jonathan Werner (@MaineSchoolTech) and Sherry Gick (@sherryngick)! I have interacted with the two of them on social media for a few years. They were so nice to allow me to participate in the TLChat Live video session. We talked about highlights at ISTE and some Future Ready topics. I have to admit I was very nervous to be sitting between two extreme leaders in our profession! I hope to have the opportunity to interact with them again in the future.

Working in the Microsoft Experience Room

Microsoft had a very strong presence at ISTE. One of my favorite areas they had established was called the Microsoft Experience Room. In that room was a great setup for Skype in the Classroom. I had volunteered to help with Skype and had the opportunity to work with the Skype in the Classroom team for a few hours on my second day at the conference. I learned about four great live Skype Virtual Field Trips while I was there:

  • Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
  • Florida Oceanographic Society
  • Buffalo Bill Centre of the West
  • National WWII Museum

You can visit for more information on these free connections for your classroom!

Our Session

Tracey and I had about 65 people attend our breakout session called Game Design as a Catalyst for Learning. Tracey showed off her Virtual Reality setup by VR Quest. After this, she gave a brief overview of Minecraft Education Edition. Following the overview, I shared some specific applications our students created from this past school year. The highlight of the session was when we used Facetime to connect with Jordan, one of my students back in Arkansas. He was able to share how he had used Minecraft for school projects and why he liked it so much! Many thanks to our friends at ISTE for allowing us to share our voices at the conference! 

Other Posts That Might Interest You: 

Makerspace resources we are adding to our libraries.

My table of contents for the blog is here!

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