7 Resources for Attending ISTE12 Virtually

For the first time in many years, I will not be attending one of my favorite conferences –  the ISTE conference.

During that week, on the opposite coast, I’ll be teaching a one week course in an Educational Leadership graduate program locally.

In exploring ways to connect and learn along with passionate educators on the opposite coast at ISTE I wondered:

How can I connect virtually? What resources are best for others wishing to do the same? What resources can be shared with my classroom so that they can connect with some of the ideas at ISTE12?

This year’s theme for ISTE is Expanding Horizons. This theme is a perfect tie in for connecting virtually!


7 Resources for Attending ISTE Virtually

  1. Twitter – If you are not on twitter, sign up for a twitter account. If you are new to twitter, access this Twitter Handbook for Teachers created by those at Powerful Learning Practice.   It contains ‘how to’ resources, basics guides and a list of twittering educators which you can follow and also join. My virtualiste12 twitter list will be located here.
  2. Hashtag #ISTE12 – Follow the hashtag for the conference. Lists will connect you with a certain group but following the hashtags will give you a wide range of results and resources as you will see results from anyone using the hashtag.  If you use the application Tweetdeck to access Twitter, you can create easy to follow columns for any list, search term or hashtag. To connect with others attending virtually use the hashtags #iste12 #virtual or #virtualiste12
  3. ISTE Ning – Join the ISTE 2012 ning. Create a group there or join a few.
  4. Full Program Guide – Read about the sessions, posters and events. Shared presentation materials are linked here. At the main site, you will also find news feeds, video clips and other updates.
  5. Google Reader – Set up a Google Reader account to follow bloggers at ISTE. By following  ISTE Unplugged you will be able to find blogs to add to your reader. ISTE has a blogger list you can access or join too.
  6. Mobile AppsISTE Mobile App has a list of standards and the ISTE Connects Blog, ISTE12 Conference App lists sessions and more.
  7. ISTE Remote – ISTE has a pay option which provides access to certain sessions. See the schedule here http://www.isteconference.org/2012/program/participate_remotely.php

About the ISTE Conference

Sponsored by the International Society of Technology in Education, the ISTE Conference draws close to 20,000 people and is the gathering place for scores of educational technology enthusiasts.

Educators gather to discuss new trends, to talk about what works what does not. Sessions explore best practice and emerging trends. The vendor floor is full of product samples and representatives ready to answer your every question.

Most importantly, it is a fantastic place to connect with people. That is what makes it great. ISTE is about the people – the passionate educators and educational supporters who bring the best of today’s learning strategies to our classrooms.

Though you may feel like a fish out of water not being at ISTE in San Diego, happily you can explore it before, during and after virtually! Taking advantage of virtual learning is more doable than ever before. Connecting with educators around the world is a lesson in 21st Century learning in and of itself!

This list is a beginning. What other resources would you add?

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” Carl Rogers”


Related Posts

Online Options for Professional Learning

This post is cross posted at SchoolCIO a division of Tech and Learning Magazine.

High School Government Class Learning with Twitter


On Top of News









Listen to Podcast


Today’s technology allows us to communicate as never before in history. Communication is global, communication is real time, communication is accessible to everyone!

In today’s media, we have seen politics discussed using social media by large groups of people all over the world covering issues in Iran, Eygypt, the US.

Social Media brings people together to learn, collaborate and discuss. It has a place in learning that is being explored more every day. This is what Jim Meredith’s AP Government class at Archbishop Ryan in Philadelphia is finding out as they learn and discuss government and politics in the classroom. I had the pleasure of speaking with the class about their project using Twitter in class. They participate in a weekly ‘Twitter Tuesday’ activity incorporating the tag #arapgov12. I am posting a summary of their responses. I also have posted the audio above.

Interview with Class

Here is the summary of my interview with teacher and Assistant Administrator, Jim Meredith and his students. You can also listen to the two part audio file posted above. (The quality of the audio is not optimal. I plan to improve upon that by using other audio tools in the future. )

1. In selecting learning activities for your AP Government class, what made you choose twitter. What did twitter have to offer that other tools/activities did not?

We chose this to build up the student knowledge of current events, politics and government. We hoped to connect with politicians as they discuss events online.  I hoped to also help them to build up their own digital footprint.
2. Were your students already familiar with Twitter?

Students were familiar with Twitter. Some used it already and if not they had heard about it.
3. How did students react to the assignment?

Students were excited and had a very positive approach to the assignment and to using twitter. One student, Jason, takes
extra responsibility and posts questions before the designated Twitter Tuesday times and also during the week.  One student said, It changes the way we learn. We like to go online and tweet about what we are learning.
Another student said, ‘It give us more hands on experience with politics. You can hear politicians on the news but through twitter you can have direct contact with current news, with politicians or their represntatives.
Students welcomed the use of online tools. It is a welcome addition to classroom activities.

4. Having completed several weeks of Twitter Tuesdays what has been the outcome?  What does the teacher think about what they are learning and how they are learning it?
Students feel more engaged with the content they are learning. They like that they can tweet out questions during class to the teacher during class and it gets addressed at a later point.
Says Jim Meredith, administrator and teacher, ‘We are learning and growing together. There is not a manual for this. I am researching and borrowing best practices from what I find online.
5. What similar assignments have you done with your classes which incorporated new technologies?
Twitter was tried before. This recent use has been the best outcome with Twitter. We have used private Facebook groups, blogging and social bookmarking. We hope to incorporate additional web tools such as Wordle in the near future.
6. How did you as an administrator and teacher become interested in using these types of technologies for learning?
Jim participated in PLP (Powerful Learning Practice), a 21st Century  learning oriented professional development initiative, beginning in 2008 and became familiar with new strategies and tools. ‘It’s more about the learning – It is not about Twitter as the tool but rather about what the students are getting from it and what I as a teacher am learning from it.  My use of Twitter and social networking helps my own professional development and helps me with my craft, my teaching.’
7. What does social media have to offer today’s educators?
As long as it is used to enhanced learning, it has a lot to offer. To the students, it can really help to enhance their learning and also build a community in our classroom.

8. How long will Twitter Tuesdays run? What is next for your class?
They will be tweeting out questions during the elections next week. Overall results have been very good. The plan is to use it for the full school year. They are flexible in this. The class will continue to evaluate its effectiveness going forward and continue as long as it meets their needs.

Its more than just that Twitter is a good technology. We are changing the way the students learn and interact. Students love the hands on experience as they interact with current events and politicians or their representatives online. Administrator, Teacher – Jim Meredith

Using real time communications tools is teaching our students more than just content. It teaches them how to communicate and collaborate in new ways.

Related Resources

Twitter Hashtags – Tech and Learning

Finding Teachers on Twitter – Free Technology 4 Teachers

Social Media and Professional Learning – Nancy Caramanico on Acer Education Blog


Professional Learning and Social Networking

You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.
(Galileo Galilei)

In order for educators to keep up with the latest and most effective classroom practices and technologies ongoing professional learning is essential. Professional development has always played an important role in education. However, professional development has an entirely new look these days. Many educators today are finding that social networking helps them to find within themselves and online the means for continuous, effective professional development. The traditional ‘sit and get’ style of professional development is rapidly being eclipsed by new and exciting forms of professional learning thanks in large part to social networking.
Powered by dedicated educators, professional learning via social networking is happening anytime and anywhere. Tune in to Twitter, Classroom 2.0, or to Facebook for example and what you will see is a new but firmly established practice for professional learning for educators. By all indications this will continue to grow.

The Pew Research Center in a recent Internet and American Life Project study found that Social Networking is on the rise in the adult population. Recent surveys show that 65% of adult internet users now use a social networking site. Pew Research found additionally that mobile access in adults is expanding. They report that 83% of adults now have cell phones and 35% of those have smartphones.

Why is Social Networking for Professional Learning Growing?

1. Time – Teachers can learn what they need when they need it at times convenient to them. They don’t have to wait for the next scheduled workshop for example.
2. Money – Social networks are largely free. Resources are shared openly.
3. Self Direction – Teachers can pursue topics of interest at their own pace.
4. Empowerment – Teachers are empowered to implement new practices in their own schools through support of those in their networks. They can make connections to other educators and professionals who can enhance the learning in their classrooms.
5. Access – Teachers have more access than ever before. Expanding internet access and portable options in computing such as tablets and netbooks make it easier for teachers to connect online.

How Can Educators Learn with Social Networking?

● Share Lessons
● Collaborate on Projects
● Form Professional Learning Communities
● Make Global Connections
● Learn about Emerging Technologies
● Discuss Challenges and Solutions

What Are Educators Saying?

Talk to some educators involved in social networking for professional learning and you’ll notice that they are enthusiastic about the benefits to them as professionals and to their students.
Jim Meredith, Assistant Principal for Academics at Archbishop Ryan High School in Philadelphia Pennsylvania has incorporated Twitter, Facebook, Social Bookmarking and online communities into his daily professional learning for the past several years.

‘Social networking is a vital component to professional growth. If Google, in fact, lets us “stand on the shoulders of giants” then social networking allows us to connect with these giants. In these tough economic times, when districts all over are cutting back, often at the expensive of professional growth and development, Twitter allows educators to enhance their PD portfolio, at no cost. When used effectively, teachers can “follow” each other, learn from each other, and therefore, connect with one another. I have used Twitter to connect with and learn from some of the real thinkers in our field today. They have stretched my thinking and, ultimately, not only does that help me grow, it helps my students grow as well. “ says Meredith.

Gene Carboni, Technology Teacher at Fr. Judge High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania feels that social networking for professional development has made a real difference in his professional growth and ultimately for the growth of his students.

“I am very passionate about doing whatever I can to make myself better at what I do – teach. Social Networking along with my three year affiliation with the PLP online community our Archdiocesan schools participated in, have provided me the opportunity to expand my skill set and talk to educators and experts from around the world. I have had conversations or commented on Twitter while sitting on the deck during the summer, in my classroom while on break and countless other times too numerous to mention. Best of all, I am better at what I do because of these online conversations in learning communities and Twitter exchanges. If I am better professionally then my students will benefit as well because of the changes I have made in my approach to our profession. “

Professional Learning Standards

As practices change, professional organizations are also acknowledge this emerging trend. Learning Forward, a professional association focused on student achievement and professional learning made up of over 49 entities, recently released new standards. In these standards, released in August of 2011, they recognize the active role of educators in their own learning and the powerful impact of anytime anywhere learning. Support from sources such as this and from school districts can support educators as they explore a new professional learning landscape.

With student engagement being the goal of all professional learning, dedicated educators and striving school districts continue daily to explore many options on behalf of their students. They may likely find that there is much to be discovered through effective professional oriented social networking. It seems as though the ‘sky is the limit’. Explore them for yourself and you are sure to make a connection that opens your classrooms to a world of learning.

Related Resources

Learning Forward – – New Standards
Pew Data on Use of Social Networking by Adults
Project Tomorrow – Speak Up Survey 2010


Cross Posted on Acer Education Blog


Online Options for Professional Learning

Flashes of Light









It is the flash which appears, the thunderbolt will follow. Voltaire

Ask an educator to describe a professional development or training day.
Do the words engaging, collaborative, enlightening, empowering come up? They should.
If your school or district is relying solely on sit down, one size fits all training, there is a good chance you are not getting the
participant satisfaction, or more importantly,  the results your school and your students need.

Making professional development days both effective and engaging is critically important as it is ultimately beneficial to students. A wide array of professional development options exist today which take advantage of the latest technologies and today’s rich online social learning environment. Adults today are accustomed to accomplishing many things online on their own time in a self directed fashion. There has been no better time than the present for taking a close look at online options for professional learning.

Blended learning is not only for students. Blended learning can be a real and powerful force in professional development. In the book Blended Learning by Curtis Bonk, we are reminded that Blended Learning is a concept whose time has come. Though the term ‘blended learning’ has been around since 1920, today’ s use of blended learning involves ‘technology mediated learning’.

  • Anytime
  • Online Resources
  • Media Rich
  • Learner Choice

How can schools open options to teachers and administrators beyond the simple one size fits all ‘sit and learn’ sessions? How can your school adapt and incorporate these new means of learning for teachers?

Online and Blended Professional Development Options for Educators

  1. Online Professional Learning Community – Consider using an online community for teachers. There, teachers can discuss topics relative to their schools and classrooms. They can pursue resources to support school academic goals and collaborative projects. Many schools administrators have found this to be an effective means for connecting with teachers outside of regular professional development days. Online communities can be made private for your faculty only.
  2. Virtual Sessions –  Provide online professional development. Archive it for later viewing. In the schools in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, virtual academy classes have been offered since September of 2009. They begin their third year in September. This has been an effective solution for providing professional development across a broad geographic area. Covering many 21st century learning themes, virtual sessions have been made optional to teachers and administrators during after school hours. As a result, 15% of teachers attended virtual sessions outside of school hours. Many more accessed the archives.
  3. Form a Professional Learning Network (PLN) – Teach teachers to connect online to other educators and to other ideas by forming a Professional Learning Network. Today’s web tools such as Twitter, Google Reader, Delicious and others allow teachers to read and comment on blogs and literally enter the classrooms of others online. Online communities exist also where teachers can network with one another sharing excellent resources. These connections can infuse teachers with new ideas, new strategies and allow for global connections in his/her classroom.
  4. Record Site Based Sessions – If you do happen to hold site based sessions, be sure to record them for later viewing. A teacher who was absent from the session or wishes to access it later for any reason will be happy to find it that it has been archived.

Increasingly adults carry out many tasks online. Why not provide access online professional development too?   Administrators and school CIOs can tap in to blended online learning professional learning options to create meaningful experiences for learning in today’s classrooms. A wide array of professional development options exist today which take advantage of the latest technologies and more importantly harness today’s rich online social learning environment.


Related Resources


Social Media – A Listening Tool for Leaders


Submerged Rocks


Great leadership is a practice pondered by many. I believe that one of the most essential leadership practices is the ability to listen well.
Today’s technology offers leaders new tools for leading and communicating. Social Media is an excellent tool for the essential leadership practice of listening.

Social media allows for engagement with others, discussion, the exploration of ideas and collaboration . Best of all though, through social media leaders can get extended practice in listening. Through social media you can find out what people’s interests, needs and challenges are. Marketing professionals know this. Many educational leaders are finding this to be true. Many are talking about how important social media can be to improving their schools. Add social media use to your leadership practice and find out how to remove obstacles to learning with technology.

“Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
—  Thomas Paine

Listening via Social Media

As a central office technology administrator/technology director at a large archdiocesan school system, I found social media to be not only a great way to engage with people but a great way to listen carefully. I found social media avenues to be a great source of information for helping to find out what challenges people faced in incorporating technology into schools. Social media can help you learn about what obstacles stand in the way of teacher and student implementation of new strategies and new technologies. Additionally, social media can be a source of information about what you might want to consider adding or removing from your programs.

Social media is a great tool for the facilitative, listening leader. Facilitative Leadership means essentially creating an environment where employees can easily succeed. Facilitative Leadership is interactive, collaborative and connected.

In using a variety of social media and connecting to others via Twitter and Online Communities (via Ning) I found myself asking…

  • What can I do as a leader to remove obstacles?
  • What challenges do people face?
  • What do they need to know about the school/organizational mission or objectives?
  • What do they need to succeed?
  • How can communication be enhanced?
  • What can I do to empower teachers as they learn and implement new strategies, new technologies?
  • What are the ‘submerged rocks’ or obstacles and how do I help to remove them?

In listening via social media, I found some common threads on challenges faced. Below is a list of 7 items to remove. What others might you add?

Technology Leadership Checklist – 7 Obstacles to Remove

  1. Remove Obstacles to Quality Tech Support – Is tech help readily at hand? Make sure tech support help is always available.  One on one support is important.
  2. Remove Outdated Policies -Are your policies supportive of technology use? Do they encourage innovation?  If your policies are prohibiting uses of many websites, educational resources and tools, its time to seriously question the benefits vs. the cost of this practice.
  3. Remove Loose Ties – Can people easily explain how technology fits in to the overall mission of the school? Tie the uses of technology in your school/organization clearly to the vision, mission and objectives. Tie the the uses of the technology in your school to the academic goals.
  4. Remove Outdated Technology – Are you expecting success with equipment, software and peripherals that are not up to the job? Is internet slow and wireless capacity nil? Update on a regular basis. If you want people to use technology…Upgrade the technology!
  5. Remove Outmoded Professional Development – Is your mode of professional development relevant to today’s adult learners? Use online professional development options, differentiate professional development, and by all means – give teachers choice.
  6. Remove Obstacles to Collaboration – Do teachers have time to collaborate? Build in time for teachers to work together and share. Help them to develop a professional learning network of their own so that they can connect to new ideas, new practices.
  7. Remove Outmoded Thinking – Are YOU changing with the times?  Most people are not because put simply, it is hard to do. The world is changing rapidly. Learning about these changes and their impact on those in your school or organization is essential for leaders.

School and Technology Leaders can tap into many excellent uses of social media to connect and listen. Today’s new, social media makes this possible on a large scale.

This post is a post for Leadership Day 2011 as promoted by Scott McLeod.

Related Resources

Policies to Empower Learning

Communications Checklist for 21st Century Leaders

Facilitative Leadership

Emerging Technologies to Watch















Professional Learning Communities Online

Professional Learning for the 21st Century Looks to the Cloud

Tulips - Spring Bloom

Choosing a new form of professional development produced meaningful and lasting results for our schools.



Technology and Education conferences present a great opportunity for learning and growth for attendees. Since conferences are chock full of information and because schedules are packed, it is always a good idea before you go to stop and think about what you would like to accomplish.

Before attending ISTE 2008 in San Antonio, I had a particular goal in mind.  As Director of Technology K-12 at the time for the schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, I was looking for professional development that could meet the following criteria:

21st Century Professional Development Aims

  • Reach – Reach a large number of Teachers and Administrators at 20 high schools (1000 teachers and administrators approximately)
  • Result – Benefit students. Enrich their learning through new technologies and digital resources (20,000 students)
  • Focus – Technology infused and 21st Century learning focused. Keeping abreast of what was new was important.
  • Quality – Delivered by academically focused educational professionals who were knowledgeable of new trends and available to answer our questions. Also being that we were a group of Catholic Schools I wanted to be sure our choice worked well with our school’s vision and understood the importance we placed on our faith based environment.
  • Interaction – Collaborative, Professional Learning Community oriented
  • Capacity Building– Future focused and allowing individuals and groups to expand on what they learn.
  • Champion Building – Create a group in each school who would learn, implement, share and encourage
  • DeliveryONLINE – It had to take advantage of online learning for teachers. Not only would this be efficient and practical. It would expose the participants to the world of connected, digital learning.
  • Easy to Assess – It would have to provide a means of assessing progress.  There would have to be an end product that schools would produce. This would build in a way to measure the benefits and also build in accountability.

That was a tough bill to fill. The conference was coming to an end. I had attended every professional development session I could find that had an online professional development component. No luck. One more session.

I went in to the PLP (Powerful Learning Practice) session hosted by Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum Beach. I heard about a new type of professional development. They discussed their work in building professional learning communities around 21st Century learning which would take advantage of online learning shifts and social learning. It would last throughout the school  year and would be job embedded. This sounded perfect for our needs. Soon we were looking forward excitedly to a new type of professional development. Far reaching, job embedded, collaborative and online.

New Forms of Professional Development Leads to New Types of Discussions

Soon new conversations were taking place. Our schools could connect with other archdiocesan schools across the broad geographical area. Our educators could connect with one another and learn from other educators around the world.

Soon our teachers and administrators were talking about

  • Wikis, Blogs, Twitter, Nings = Tools
  • Collaboration, Reflection, Community = Engagement
  • Change, New Ideas, New Ways of Teaching and Learning = 21st Century Mindset


“Conversation is food for the soul” Mexican Proverb

Fast Forward

During past school year, for the third year in a row, a cohort/community group from our Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was formed through Powerful Learning Practice (PLP). The cohort begins in the fall and throughout the year is infused with the best learning that 21st century technology has to offer. In the spring, final projects are completed and then showcased in an exciting culminating event attended by all team members. At those culminating events our schools share what they have learned and discuss plans for the future.

Read about the work of some of the schools who participated here (Mercy Vocational) and here (Father Judge High School) , here Archbishop Ryan and here (Cardinal O’Hara High School). This is just a small sampling of our school’s projects.

Having participated and watched our schools learn and grow via the cohorts has been wonderful. The program was expanded to our elementary schools also. In many of the schools the teams chose professional development of their own faculty as their PLP project. This helped to spread the concept of 21st Century learning in their schools. For others, they chose a school wide or classroom project with students. St. Anastasia School in Newtown Square is doing a school newsletter integrating various subjects and storytelling. St. Pius School is having the students create videos about their science lab projects.

Thinking in New Ways

Accomplishing today’s professional development requires that we stop and think. What is best? What will produce the results we want for our children? What will provide the best support for teachers?

New conversations are necessary. New forms of learning for administrators, teachers and students can bring about the 21st Century classrooms we need.

Related Information

Action Research PLP 

Creating the Vanuard, Jamie Mackenzie

Cohorts for the 2011-2012 Year