Classroom Technology

Country’s Largest Ed-Tech Conference Is a Virtual Experience During COVID-19

By Alyson Klein — November 29, 2020 1 min read
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Next week will kick off an International Society for Technology in Education conference like no other.

At the start of 2020, ISTE, the ed-tech community’s largest conference, was scheduled to be in person, in Anaheim, Calif. But then COVID-19 hit. ISTE announced this summer that it would still hold the event, but it would be later in the year, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 5. And it would be all virtual.

Richard Culatta, the CEO of ISTE, said he and the group’s leadership team spent the spring and summer attending virtual conferences. And they found many of them were less than inspiring. So they decided their own conference would be an “immersive, interactive” event, with plenty of opportunities for networking or just catching up and exchanging ideas with other conference-goers.

If you read the session titles for ISTE 2020, you won’t see a lot of references to “COVID-19", “the pandemic”, or “hybrid learning.”

That is by design, Culatta said.

Almost all the sessions will tackle a particular topic. such as digital citizenship, through the lens of COVID-19.

Some of the sessions originally planned for this conference have been pushed off to next year’s event. Others were asked to retool for the current context. And still others were added to meet the demands of the moment. ISTE surveyed numerous districts and found that educators were most interested in learning how to do authentic assessment online, and build inclusivity for all types of learners. So it revamped the program to put a special emphasis on those topics.

For now, ISTE is hoping to hold its 2021 conference in San Antonio, in late June, as originally scheduled. But the event may include some sort of online component, Culatta said.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.

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