Reflecting on ISTE 2024

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Takeaways from the Denver Conference

by Christine DeFranco, Director, Client Solutions

multi-paned window with a banner reading Welcome ISTELive 2024 positioned in the upper center portionAs the sun sets on another exhilarating International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference, held this year in the vibrant city of Denver, educators, technologists, and those who live at the intersection of both (ahem Westchester Education and me) find themselves buzzing with inspiration. The ISTE conference has always been a melting pot of innovation, where educators gather to explore how technology and teaching can join forces for the sake of good with the collective aim of revolutionizing learning experiences for students worldwide.

Here are 6 key takeaways from this year’s conference that highlight the trends and insights shaping the future of education:

1. Embracing AI & Machine Learning in Education

woman seated at a table with a large banner behind her, speaking with two men standing in front of the tableI know if you hear these letters one more time you are going to lose it, but Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning emerged as central themes this year. Many sessions focused on how these technologies can personalize learning experiences (IEPs and beyond), streamline administrative tasks (because that never gets old, truly), and provide insights into student progress.

Educators are increasingly recognizing the potential of AI to cater to individual student needs, thereby fostering a more inclusive and effective learning environment. I learned that there are some college entrance exams requiring students to utilize AI to write their essays, asking them to critically analyze results, adjust their direction, and inevitably craft their own response sans AI. This changes things immensely, especially for educators opposed to AI in the classroom who will now have to acquiesce to AI’s wiles as assessments out of their control, like college admission essays are starting to require knowledge of how to use the fake intelligence tool.

2. Augmented & Virtual Reality Transforming Learning

Minecraft booth at ISTELive 2024The immersive power of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) continues to captivate educators as they explore new ways to engage students and deepen their understanding of complex concepts. From virtual field trips to interactive simulations, AR and VR are proving to be powerful tools for bringing learning to life and catering to diverse learning styles.

Additional proof of how engaging AR and VR can be was the fact that many of the students who attended the conference could be seen wearing a head set or seeking one out as they waited on a line.

3. Digital Citizenship & Online Safety

In an increasingly digital world, the importance of teaching digital citizenship and online safety was underscored in numerous sessions. Educators discussed strategies for empowering students to navigate the internet responsibly, critically evaluate online information, and protect their digital identities—a crucial skill set in today’s interconnected society.

4. Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (EDI) in EdTech

Promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion in educational technology was a recurring theme throughout the conference. Discussions centered around ensuring equitable access to technology tools and resources for all students, addressing biases in AI algorithms, and celebrating diverse voices in curriculum development and edtech leadership.

5. Professional Development in the Digital Age

As technology evolves, so too must the professional development (PD) opportunities available to educators. PD-centric sessions highlighted innovative approaches to ongoing professional learning, including micro-credentialing, personalized learning pathways, and collaborative online communities. The focus was on empowering educators to harness technology effectively to enhance their teaching practice and student outcomes.

6. Sustainability and Environmental Awareness

In line with global concerns, there was a notable emphasis on sustainability and environmental awareness in edtech solutions. Educators and edtech companies explored how technology can be leveraged to promote environmental stewardship, integrate sustainability into curricula, and inspire students to become responsible global citizens.

Closing Thoughts

Bidding farewell to Denver and looking ahead to the future of edtech in education, the key takeaways from ISTE 2024 remind us of the transformative potential of technology when coupled with thoughtful pedagogy and a commitment to equity and inclusion. The conference served as a powerful reminder of the collective responsibility we share—to innovate responsibly, empower educators, and prepare students for a rapidly evolving world.

As a former educator, it was incredibly motivating and informative to be immersed in this setting where teachers and companies alike are focused on a shared mission of improving education outcomes for all students. Whether you attended the conference in person or followed along virtually, the insights shared have undoubtedly sparked new ideas and initiatives for you. Let’s schedule a convenient time to discuss how Westchester Education can help turn your product ideas into effective educational content.


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