Four years ago I attended my first conference with ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education. I knew a handful of people, some ISTE editors, some educational technology specialists, but I pretty much walked in blind. The conference in 2019 was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, a huge sprawling complex that fills up a good chunk of downtown Philly. The halls were filled people, poster sessions and every wall charger full. The discussions that year were full of talk on data dashboards, new design and video tools and more. The discussions in 2023? All about AI.
There were 50 plus sessions/table talks on Artificial Intelligence at the 2023 conference, and more discussions in meetings and one-on one. I attended one with the ISTE Digital Citizenship Coalition hosted by author and AI expert Tony Frontier. It was a broad discussion on using AI to teach digital citizenship, what should be taught, barriers to AI etc. Many other such conversations were had through the last few days.
Every year there is a “hot topic” at ISTE, which is the largest educational technology conference in the world. But I think the AI topic won’t just flare out in the next year. It’s one that will continue although morph into less panic and speculation, into one more of practicality and implementation. There is a large gap between idea and implementation, one I write about in my latest book with ISTE, Deepening Digital Citizenship: a Guide to Systemwide Policy and Practice. The ideas and all the talks on AI cannot be easily translated into a classroom, a home or a lesson plan.
A lot has changed since 2019 since my first ISTE conference. I see most of that change with me. I walked the floors in 2019 largely left alone and unrecognized, now I frequently was stopped and late to other things because of friends I’ve made. I’m hoping that in ISTE 2027, four years from now, I’m even later to events in ISTE because of more great people I know—and that we have a new “hot topic” at ISTE.