Saturday, December 27, 2014

So What Exactly is ISTE?

Over the next few months you are going to hear a lot about ISTE. Chances are if you have spent 5 minutes on Twitter over the last few weeks you have seen people tweet about presenting (or not presenting) and ISTE this summer and you wondered what all the fuss was about. Hopefully this help make some sense of it all. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is a nonprofit organization that “serves educators and education leaders committed to empowering connected learners in a connected world.” ISTE is an international organization that has over 100,000 members. I first became familiar with ISTE in 2008 when I was doing research to figure out how to better use technology in my role as a teacher. I joined one of their virtual networks and I attend their annual conference and I was absolutely blown away by my experience. I have been back every year since then, mostly on my own dime. Needless to say I have become an expert on how to attend ISTE on a shoestring budget, but that is a completely different post.
Over the next few months I’m going to write a series of posts about ISTE which I hope you will find useful on some level. This first one will focus on what ISTE is and why becoming a member is beneficial to you as a professional. After this post I will narrow the focus to the ISTE standards. Later in the spring I will share some posts that will be useful to first-time conference attendees. (It is actually quite an overwhelming experience and it can be frustrating if you don’t approach it with a game plan.)
So what is ISTE? Basically, ISTE is an international professional organization that provides educators with resources, ideas, and networking opportunities to help advance the use of technology in education. Here are the highlights of what ISTE  provides for members:
  • Technology standards for a variety of different groups of people from students to administrators. These standards provide a clear picture of which skills are important in our changing society.
  • Variety of professional development opportunities including webinars, books, and online courses.
  • Advocacy opportunities to help promote change anywhere from the local to national level.
  • Membership in affiliate organizations from around the world. Many times membership in an affiliate organization means you qualify for a discounted ISTE membership.
  • Meaningful way to give back to our learning community by providing volunteer opportunities.
  • Connect with educators year-round in the online ISTE community. You can also connect with other educators using official conference hashtag which is #ISTE2015. (Rebels will use #ISTE15 so you might want to follow both.) The ISTE Twitter account, @isteconnects, is also very active and responsive to questions. You can also connect with ISTE and ISTE member on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
  • Digital and print access to entersekt.
  • ISTE’s annual conference. The conference is held at the end of June in different  cities across the United States and it attarcts anywhere from 15,000 to 18,000 educators. To say it is HUGE is an understatement. This year the conference is going to be in Philadelphia and in 2016 it will be in Denver. I will write much more on the conference in the coming months but I would urge you to find a way to get there and get a room booked soon because they are filling up fast! If you are planning on attending try to find a way to get there by Saturday morning. There is always a great “unconference” that takes place and it is a usually one of the highlights of my ISTE experience each year.
Membership in ISTE is around $100 which is less than 30 cents a day. I look at it as an investment in myself. I have had the opportunity to do so many things because of my membership in ISTE. Please take a few minutes to check out their website and consider joining if you can. If you can attend their conference this summer it would be an experience that you would never forget!

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