ISTE 2014 broke records this year, with more than 16,000 people registering for the event, and nearly a half million tweets using the #iste2014 hashtag floating around the Twittersphere during the four-day conference recently held in Atlanta, Ga.

Imagine the expo hall with thousands of educators — and others — visiting booths, learning about new products and trends. Imagine also the constant stream of attendees navigating four floors of escalators leading to sessions, playgrounds and more.

The SmartBrief education team was among those attendees looking to uncover what’s on the horizon for educational technology. Here are some of our takeaways from the event, based on conversations with attendees, vendors and others.

1. Recognize struggling students and intervene. Ashley Judd’s opening keynote session was an emotional journey. She shared her personal struggles with abandonment during adolescence, calling on educators to recognize struggling students and intervene. “If the only thing you ever do as an educator is believe a child who comes to you, you will have done enough,” she said. (read more…)

SmartBrief Education has been on the ground at #ISTE2014 in Atlanta. Here’s a look — via Storify — at some of our real-time insights from the event. (read more…)

maker educationIn a high-school art room, I watched a student working at an easel. When I asked about her progress, she explained that she was attempting to paint sunflowers in the style of Monet, her favorite artist. She told me she liked how the flowers were looking but said the vase was giving her trouble. She planned to keep reworking it, applying layers of acrylic until she got the play of light just the way she wanted. Then she laughed and said, “You should see what’s underneath! I bet there are three or four versions beneath this one.”

Not only was the student producing a lovely painting — which would one day grace her family’s living room — but she was paying close attention to her learning process. At the end of each class, she added a short reflection to her project journal, which she was keeping on a Google Doc shared with her teacher. (read more…)

Hopscotch courtEvery student has a passion project inside, waiting to emerge if invited to do so. These dreams lie just beneath the surface, built on experiences and stories, fears and achievement. They just need a spark to catch fire.

It is the job of teachers and other adults to provide that spark. We need to give our students the opportunity to shatter the rules, become their own teachers and captains of their own ship on a journey where they set the destination and the route.

Genius Hour — a regular time in class during which students get to pursue their own passion projects — is a gift that opens students up to the world of their own talents and interests. It allows them to reach beyond the routine, unlearn the rules they’ve been programmed to follow and embrace the uncertainty of their own audacious dreams.

How Genius Hour evolved

The concept of Genius Hour emerged from some of the world’s most innovative companies, whose leaders invited employees to explore their own ideas for contributing to the organization’s success. (read more…)

eventsNearly 100 educators and thought leaders flocked to the U.S. Department of Education headquarters June 6 to join #EdcampUSA, an “unconference” led by educators, for educators. Hundreds more joined the conversation via social media. Visit Storify to view tweets and pictures that captured the day. Educators built the schedule on the spot and volunteered to lead sessions on professional development, connected learning and digital trends.

Here are five takeaways from the day-long conversation:

  1. Sharing is caring. #EdCampUSA provides all of the resources and interactive notes from its sessions for free. As in-person participants and the broader online community chime in, sessions may shift organically. All notes from Edcamp US DOE are posted here.
  2. Technology is a tool, but it’s not a magic wand. There are many ways to integrate technology into the classroom. Ultimately, session leaders emphasized that it’s not about how a single device, program or website reinvents education, it’s about how tools deepen learning.
  3. (read more…)