ISTE2018 Review

As a veteran of six ISTE trips dating back to 2009, I can say with 100% confidence, this is the best ISTE Conference I’ve ever experienced.  I’ve thought a lot about why it was so much better than ISTEs of the past and came up with these four simple reasons.

Chicago Fireworks

First – Chicago was the perfect venue for late June.

It was both affordable and easy to fly in and out of Chicago Midway International on Southwest from Salt Lake City.  Taking a CTA train from the airport to the hotel to the convention center to anywhere in town as also affordable and fast.  The weather was nice and mild, not hot and humid like San Antonio or Atlanta.  And the City of Chicago was both clean and friendly unlike the stinky and stuck up vibe of Denver.  Not to mention, Chicago didn’t reek of recently legalized marijuana.  Sorry Denver.  I love you, but you’re just not the same town that I remember visiting as kid.

Second – The Keynote Speakers were top notch.

MH and AWGetting to hear from authors David Eagleman (The Brain: The Story of You) and Andy Weir (The Martian and Artemis) was enlightening, entertaining, and thought provoking.  Wednesday’s closing Keynote by Nadia L. Lopez from the Mott Hall Bridges Academy in New York gave a nice balance of heart string pulling to the cerebral mind bending presentations of the earlier presenters.

Third – Breakout Sessions were easy to find and attend.

The McCormick Place Convention Center is laid out in a simple manner that’s easy to navigate.  Connected with bridges to the Marriott and Hyatt Regency Hotels made it very easy to get food, water, rest, and access to anything that you needed any time of day.  Although some sessions did fill up quickly, most were easy to pop in and even easier to pop out.  When two interesting sessions happened at the same time I had no problem attending one for 20-30 minutes to grab all the content I needed before running out to catch the last 20-30 minutes of another one.  Electronic materials were also easy to access and share with colleagues.

Speaking of electronic resources, check out all of my notes here in my shared Google Folder – ISTE2018 Notes.

Fourth – There’s so much good food!

Chicago DogChicago Dog at Comisky Park is an experience you won’t forget. You’ll be reminded of it several times as your stomach growls for hours after the game.  Pizza at Gino’s East right off of Michigan Avenue.  More Pizza at Giordano’s on Navy Pier.  Even better pizza at Lou Malnati’s.  Steak at Harry Caray’s or Seafood from McCormick and Schmick’s.  Breakfast?  Be sure to visit the Donut Vault.  No matter where you are in Chicago you’re surrounded by good people and great food.  This means that when you’re tired and hungry from the high tech educational mental fatigue that is ISTE, your stomach won’t suffer.

In conclusion, thank you to the ISTE Board and everyone who helped to put on a fantastic educational conference this summer.  I returned to Utah feeling motivated, rejuvenated, and re-energized.  It wasn’t exactly a “vacation” to attend ISTE in Chicago, but it was definitely well worth the trip.


National Memorial for Peace and Justice

A humid Wednesday afternoon in May.  Montgomery, Alabama.  With the day off to explore this southern city I went for a walk around town.  Relying on my phone and Google Maps to find some must see locations I started with a visit to the Civil Rights Memorial created by Maya Lin through funding by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Walking from my hotel I passed landmarks like the bus stop where Rosa Parks boarded a city bus on December 1, 1955, and the Dexter Avenue King Baptist Church where Martin Luther King, Jr. served as Pastor from 1954-1960.  During my visit to the Rosa Parks Museum on the campus of Troy University, a pleasant young woman named Keisha gave me directions to the recently dedicated “National Memorial for Peace and Justice” built by the Equal Justice Initiative.  She pointed me up the street and around the corner suggesting I purchase tickets on my phone using the EJI App.  $5.50 later I was on my way to visit a place I’ll never forget.

NMPJ02 Skyline

NMPJ01 Entrance

The memorial, consisting of 800 six foot tall metal monuments suspended from the structure, sits atop a grassy hillside on the six acre site.  It is easy to see from the road, hauntingly inviting.  Concrete poured into wooden molds gives the entrance a cold, hard feel.  Mimicking the innards of a ship, complete with holes similar to those drilled by slaves seeking a glimpse of where they were sailing.

A quick trip through the metal detector and you emerge back into the daylight along a gravel path leading to a metal sculpture depicting an enslavement scene from the west coast of Africa.

NMPJ02 Enslavement

NMPJ03 Portrait

A young mother in rusty chains reaches for her baby’s father who stands in defiance, looking off towards the memorial.  Others have fallen to their knees in surrender.  All are cuffed and bound by the chains.  A closer look at the standing man’s face reveals a sense of calm despair, confusion, and strength.

Rust from the iron chains leaves marks along his timeless black metal skin resembling streams of blood.

Continuing along the gravel path brings you to the entrance of the structure where the metal monuments are supported by both the concrete floor and the post above.  Each monument is inscribed with the date, State and County in which a terror lynching took place.  Under the location are the names of the men, women and children who were killed there.

NMPJ04 Monuments

NMPJ05 FootprintsThe pathway turns right.  The concrete floor is replaced by a wooden deck and begins to slope downwards.  The monuments pull away from the ground, wooden boxes remain like empty footprints below.  Each step echos louder as the walls grow higher, hints of the sound one might hear boarding a slave ship.

Eyes are forced to look upward at the suspended monuments hanging over head.  A lady ahead of me stands in silence, her legs and feet filling the space between.

Splintering the sunlight the blocks suggest a heavenly ascension, an escape from the injustice and hatred that fueled this time and place.  There is light between them.  Room to grow?  Room to remember?   And waiting outside, laying in rows, duplicates of each block sit and rust in the sun.  Laid out alphabetically by state and county they wait to be collected, intended to be displayed as memorials themselves in the 800 counties where they belong.  I found the one monument to the two men who were murdered in Utah.  Hopefully it will be collected soon and put up on display in Salt Lake City.

With a heavy heart and bleary eyes I continued towards the exit, alone.  Families walked together among the blocks looking for familiar names or their own home counties.  An older white man sat and wept on a bench while his daughter consoled him.  I heard him whisper to her, “but there are so many.”

The last statue as you approach the exit shows men with their arms held high in varying degrees of concrete submersion.  They appear to surrender to water with the city scape dwarfed in the background.  Until you walk around behind the sculpture and see a different perspective.  Are their arms outstretched in surrender?

NMPJ10 Surrender

Or are they uplifted?  Attempting to raise the monuments suspended before them.

NMPJ11 Uplifting

A Visit to Tallahassee


This place is beautiful.  Warm, friendly, and full of amazing flora and fauna.  The live oaks hang in the sunset over the garnet brick pathways meandering across campus, accented by spring blooms and sharp green palms.  Tallahassee wraps around the college with the State Capital standing tall to the east.  Flying in was awe inspiring as there’s nothing to see but endless green as you descend into the Tallahassee International Airport over the massive Apalachicola National Forest.

I’m looking forward to sharing my “Collateral Change” presentation with attendees of the eRepublic sponsored Florida Digital Government Summit.  From the event program…

Is there any doubt that this is the Age of Disruption? Technology is rending the fabric of society as we know it, driving historic levels of transformative change and mindboggling opportunities. But what are the consequences of this disruption on the lives of everyday citizens? The ramifications run deep, and it’s time to shift our focus from the technology to the resulting “collateral change” in human behavior. We’ve long passed some serious tipping points. This provocative session explores new communication paradigms, runaway device infatuation, generation gaps, radical education, future game-changers and creative ways to engage the “new citizen.” 

Ottawa County Tech & Innovation Forum

2018-03-Grand_Haven_PierThank you to the Ottawa County Department of Technology & Innovation for your invite and hospitality to spend a few days on the western shore of Michigan.  It was a pleasure to listen to Rick Sheridan, author of Joy, Inc. and CEO of Menlo Innovations kick off the morning with a great keynote.  His discussion about the changes they made to increase happiness in the workplace have me thinking about all the things we could also apply to schools to improve the wellness and wellbeing of students and teachers.

After lunch I really enjoyed sharing “Expectations of A Constantly Connected Workforce” with the attendees, and as promised – here are the slides I used in the presentation.  You can download in PDF form from this link.

Finally – if you’d like to review the responses to the Google Form we used in the presentation you can see them here – miOttawa2018 Expectations Survey Results

Product Review: Insta360 Camera

This winter the UEN PD Team purchased an Insta360 Camera for use in our “Mixed Reality In Education” two day course.  While it is possible to create 360 degree images with a smart phone using apps like Google Street View and “stitching technology”, the Insta360 makes it much easier to take not only 360 images but also video.

Connecting the camera to an iPhone is especially easy with the lightning connector.  Pop out the connector, plug it into the device, and you’re ready to capture or film.  Even easier to use is the blue tooth connection for remote shots and video recording.  In the image below I used Blue Tooth to take a picture with the camera sitting on a rock at the Waianapanapa State Park in Maui, Hawaii.  This is an interactive picture, click and drag the image after the fish eye intro.  You can even look straight down to see the black and white flexi-tripod that held the camera for the picture.


Available from Amazon, Apple, and the Insta360 website this camera retails for approximately $300.  It’s well worth the money, but more expensive will be the time you invest in learning all of the cool features and special effects.  So far I’ve played with making movies, uploading animated shorts to Instagram, and taking images for both Google VR Expeditions and Google Street View posts.

For more tips and tricks for using the Insta360 check out the Insta360 Blog.