In the early 1970s, a small band of forward-looking educators at the University of Oregon had a vision of how digital technology could enhance learning and teaching. Word spread, and soon graduate students and teachers from across the country came together to study what was then the nascent field of education technology. ISTE's early roots were planted by these innovative pioneers in classrooms and informal gatherings in homes and backyard barbecues in the Pacific Northwest.
Fast forward to 2014 and the debate about technology's relevance to education is over. U.S. districts are investing equipment and lobbying for more bandwidth. Around the globe, an impressive range of technology infrastructure initiatives are happening. And while these foundational elements are among the Essential Conditions for the ISTE Standards for students, teachers and administrators, the critical last mile requires building a systemic and sustainable approach, including professional learning, to support the creative application of new technologies to enhance learning and teaching.
ISTE membership provides all educators a gathering place for just this kind of learning and helps them " "find their tribes" " those colleagues with whom they can learn, teach and share best practices for technology integration.
In the Connect section of the website, members can quickly find their tribes among the more than 25 Professional Learning Networks (PLNS) made up of individuals who share their interests, challenges and successes. From topic-based groups to role-based groups, there's a PLN you'll want to connect with, and access to these networks is always free for ISTE members.
The new EdTekHub offers daily, expertly curated, practical content created by members for members ideas you can use in your school or classroom tomorrow. And in this magazine, entrsekt, you can dive deep into the issues and individuals transforming education today in our connected world.
The ISTE Conference in June hosted over 16,000 ISTE members, many of whom were engaged with each other virtually throughout the year. At the conference, members have the joy of connecting face-to-face with their year-round tribes. With nearly 800 sessions, the learning opportunities are vast and innovative. Still, some say their richest learning takes place in the un-conference environments where participants more than 22,000 from 67 countries in 2014 can talk shop on a more personal level.
A group from ISTE's Young Educator Network made a post-conference video that included comments like, " "The learning was amazing!" " " "I've found my soul mates!" " and " "We're going to stay connected this year and do whatever it takes to be at next year's ISTE conference!" "
Perhaps ISTE member Tom Whitby said it best: " "If you are not a connected educator, quite honestly, you're irrelevant. In order to keep up, you have to continue to learn. We often say that we want our students to be lifelong learners, and we have to have our teachers be lifelong learners. ISTE is the kind of organization that connects people and keeps them relevant." "
Now that most of us in the Northern Hemisphere are back in school, I hope you'll use all the resources and connections that ISTE membership provides to improve the learning experiences of those you impact.