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Keep the ISTE20 Live Learning Going

By Jorge Valenzuela
December 5, 2020
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With ISTE20 Live buttoned up, many educators are now focusing on maximizing their learning by creating a professional development plan to make the most of the 800+ session recordings that will remain available until May.

Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind as you create your plan: 

Favorite your sessions. While they're still fresh in your mind, go to the platform and "favorite" sessions that you attended so you can rewatch and also favorite sessions you want to watch recordings of. It's an easy way to keep track of your preferences.

Download resources. Don't forget to go to session pages and add resources to your digital tote. Do this both for sessions you attended and those that you'd like to watch later. 

Review the chat. The chat will also be available as long as the recordings are up. Participants often put helpful links into the chat, so it's fun to skim through for some gems. 

So whether you attended with your grade-level teaching team, your PLN or were flying solo, I recommend being strategic about how you use the recordings to meet your individual and collective school goals. 

Not sure where to begin? Here are some important things to consider, along with actionable steps you can take to prioritize your learning effectively and for transformative teaching results.

1. Find sessions that align your school’s academic goals to the content you teach.

Schools and teachers that are clear about students' academic goals have a better vision of the PD they need most to increase student academic performance. That PD may involve focusing on content, skills, assessment, pedagogy, edtech or something else. 

As usual, this year’s conference had lots to choose from in the K-12 content areas, various elective offerings and career-themed programs. There are 37 topics you can filter by in the program as well as the following academic categories to help you organize a PD plan centered on the content you teach. Make sure to scan the session descriptions to find alignment with your school’s academic goals.

2. Find sessions that align schoolwide initiatives with the content you teach.

Those of us who work in schools already know that we do a lot more than teach academics. To help kids become well-rounded citizens, we also provide them with career and social-emotional learning (SEL) in tandem with edtech tools. 

Typically the use of edtech tools, research-based pedagogies and strategies, as well as any additional learning opportunity outside of the mandated content areas are a part of both state and schoolwide initiatives in many districts. This year’s conference has us covered with many of those relevant initiatives and topics. 

3. Try something new.

Since all of the conference content will be recorded and available to attendees for six months, I think it’s important to try something new after prioritizing sessions centered on what you teach and your schoolwide priorities. 

My recommendation is to make a short list of sessions that focus on topics you’re interested in and can see yourself integrating into your existing lessons. For example, maybe you teach language arts, but want to delve into computational thinking or a social studies teacher who wants to learn more about artifical intelligence. Bookmark these sessions so you can explore them in depth in your spare time. 

ISTE20 Reinventing Education Together graphic

4. Make a PD schedule and stick to it.

How many times have you been inspired to try something new by a conference presenter but left that idea on the back burner once you got back to your busy teaching schedule? It’s easy to do. To increase the likelihood that you’ll return to sessions you missed or to rewatch those you want to dive back into, make a schedule and hold yourself accountable.

You might decide to carve out an hour a week and block off time on your calendar to ensure you’ll stick to the schedule. If you have colleagues from your school, district or PLN who are attending ISTE20 Live, consider teaming up to watch recordings together or at least hold each other accountable by reporting back on your progress. ISTE’s 800-session archive of recordings is too valuable to leave on the shelf, so commit to getting the most out of it by dedicating time.  

The gold standard for virtual conferences 

When I decided in 2017 that I needed to enhance how I receive my own personal PD, I began reading the ISTE Blog and books in tandem with attending the annual conference and other live and virtual events. I have found ISTE to base its publications and teacher PD on findings from the learning sciences. It represents marginalized groups (which I appreciate), and ISTE is dedicated to collaborating with individuals and organizations committed to using edtech for social change. 

Please watch the recording of my lightning talk, Strategies for Activating Equity and SEL Into Lessons.

Jorge Valenzuela is an education coach, author and advocate. He has years of experience as a classroom and online teacher, a curriculum specialist and as a consultant. His work focuses on improving teacher preparation in project-based learning, computational thinking and computer science integration, STEM education, and equity-based restorative practices. Jorge is an adjunct professor at Old Dominion University and the lead coach at Lifelong Learning Defined. His book Rev Up Robotics: Real-World Computational Thinking in the K–8 Classroom is available from ISTE.