Jason Carroll, Global Product Manager

Top Takeaways from ISTE 2016

Over 19,000 educators and exhibitors from over 70 countries attended this year’s ISTE 2016 conference in Denver, CO to take part in the premier show for emerging and trending educational technology. 

While Texthelp was there showing our most recent updates for Read&Write for Google Chrome™, Fluency Tutor®, and our newest offering, WriQ™, we were also traveling the impressive exhibit hall and sessions to see what hot topics were on everyone’s mind.

So if you couldn’t make it, or need a high level overview after taking in so much during the jam packed event, here are our top takeaways...  


With over 1,000 educational sessions and more than 500 companies showcasing their latest and greatest technologies, summarizing things in a few paragraphs isn’t the easiest task. However, after an in-depth look at the exhibit hall, and spending some time with as many speakers and participants as possible (a difficult feat since ISTE has so much to offer!), here are some of the recurring top trends we saw.

Google is continuing to chomp away at the competition. 

Out of the hundreds of people that stopped by the Texthelp booth, almost all were at least partially using Google Apps for Education in the classroom. As Google continues to increase market share with Google Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides, they are also doing quite well in the devices arena. Google’s Chromebook, which can be purchased for under $200, now owns over 50% of the market share for new devices being purchased in schools. 

So what’s new with Google in Education? At ISTE, Google announced several updates including Google Expeditions being available to all schools, a new Google Cast for Education app, the addition of Quizzes in Google Forms, and the bundling of creativity apps for Chromebooks.  

OER is here to stay

Open Educational Resources, or OER, is freely accessible content and media that schools can use in place of many of the traditional (and sometimes expensive) resources typically used. This can include anything from complete courses to textbooks, or even individual documents, sites or videos covering a specific topic. 

OER isn’t new. For years, teachers in school districts who teach similar content have worked together to create their own educational resources and make them freely available to others. Also companies like CK12.org have been creating and packaging content for districts for some time now. What was different at ISTE this year was the number of other players hopping on the OER bandwagon, or partnering with others to offer OER in some way or another.

For example, Amazon revealed its new OER platform called Inspire. Teachers can join, contribute and use content for free. Districts have the ability to make content freely available to all, or only those in the district, so not all materials are completely open to everyone, but it is still a major shift for Amazon in the OER direction. 

Coding and “Making” continue to rise. 

I counted well over a dozen booths with 3-D printers, and even more offering everything from small inexpensive robots to build-your-own computer kits. The idea of makerspaces in education, where dedicated space is made available for students to code, create and experiment with a range of technologies, seems to finally have hit the mainstream in many schools. Microsoft was probably the largest of the many companies promoting this, and had several educators on staff giving booth visitors their own hands-on makerspace experience. 

Summary

With so much going on at the nation’s biggest EdTech conference, it’s nearly impossible to cover everything. But there are always a few trends that stick out. Did you attend ISTE this year or follow along on social media via the #ISTE2016 hashtag? If so, what would you add to the list of biggest takeaways? Add a comment below to continue the conversation! 

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Paul Brown just booked his flight for ISTE 2017!

Also, it’s never too early to start planning for next year’s ISTE event in San Antonio. Mark your calendars now for June 25 - 28, 2017!

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