Professional Development

Some Kids Had a ‘Choppy’ K-12 Experience This Year. ISTE Will Explore Solutions

By Alyson Klein — June 21, 2021 2 min read
Image of a student working on a computer from home.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The International Society for Technology in Education’s annual conference is one of the largest and best-attended K-12 education events around. (How big is ISTE? Back in 2019, the last time it was held in person, in Philadelphia, the Panera across the street from the conference center ran out of food. There were more than 20,000 participants that year.)

Last year, of course, ISTE was a virtual-only event, thanks to the pandemic. And this year, it will also be held online only, beginning June 26.

Richard Culatta, the chief executive officer of ISTE, expects that the biggest themes of the conference will grow out of the aftermath of the pandemic. He is betting there will be a lot of talk about digital citizenship and thinking about what it means for K-12 now that “so much more of our lives happen in virtual spaces.”

And he thinks that helping students stay on track will be a hot topic too.

“We have students who had very different experiences” of learning during the pandemic, Culatta said. Some were able to make great progress, but others had “a very intermittent or choppy learning experience.” The big question going into the fall will be around what needs to be done to make sure all students are on track.

The virtual event will feature Leslie Odom, Jr. of “Hamilton” fame. (Will he sing? “It’s possible. Wink-wink, nod-nod,” said Culatta.) Also speaking: Priscilla Chan, a co-founder of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a philanthropy; U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona; and Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

ISTE has tweaked the event, based on feedback on last year’s virtual conference. While it’s not really possible to simulate the experience of being out on the floor at an ISTE in-person conference, there will be more opportunities this year to “be able to see what the latest and greatest tools look like in action,” Culatta said.

So is ISTE sticking with an all-virtual format for the long haul? That’s a no, Culatta said. “We are going to go back to having a physical presence. And that will start next year,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean the virtual component is gone for good, either. “There’s just some great value in having virtual participation as well,” he said. He expects there will continue to be a hybrid piece to the organization’s signature conference in future years, as well as its other events.

“We’ll have some variety of face-to-face and virtual experiences throughout our program,” Culatta said.

Related Tags:

Events

English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Professional Development Quiz How Much Do You Know About Instructional Coaching?
Answer 7 questions to see how much you know about instructional coaching.
Professional Development Quiz How Much Do You Know About PD on Tech?
Answer 7 questions to see how much you know about PD on Tech.
Professional Development Coaching for New Principals Can Provide a Critical Pillar of Support
Principal-coaches can go beyond mentoring to help early-career principals, but many districts don't have them.
11 min read
Professional Development How Taking a Turn as a Teacher Can Sharpen a Principal's Leadership Skills
"Teaching principals" say the experience can deepen relationships with staff and offer valuable lessons for their own leadership decisions.
7 min read