More than 18,000 attendees at the June 24 - 28 International Society for Technology for Education Convention in San Diego got an eyeful and an earful about the latest technologies available for educators and their students. With more than 400 sessions and 500 exhibitors, there was ample opportunity to learn about the various ways technology can be used in the classroom.
Walking around the exhibit hall, I started to notice the current and newest trends in technology products for the K12 market. In a nutshell, those were:
Apps for the iPad, iPhone and other mobile devices
Interactive whiteboards with student response systems
Of course, seeing the multitude of iPad and iPhone apps was no surprise. The features of these apps include being able to give assessments on smartphones, complete with a secure, locked down browser. Also, many interactive whiteboards were featured at the conference; however, at this point most people are somewhat familiar with this technology and their corresponding student response systems (think of the little handheld voting devices used on America’s Funniest Home Videos).
Several companies approached the cutting-edge by introducing their version of multi-touch tables. On a side note – I had gotten into the habit of calling them “smart” tables, but it was pointed out to me that “Smart” is actually a brand name, so in the interest of impartiality, we’ll use the more generic term, “multi-touch.”
For those of a certain age, these items will remind you of the PacMan game tables from your youth that used to be in pizzerias and arcades. Multi-touch tables allow 2 to 4 students to use them concurrently for collaboration, group activities, educational game playing, etc. The display quality of the multi-touch tables featured at ISTE was impressive. I found them to be extremely user friendly, especially for early childhood education, and potentially more so than some of the apps and other technologies presented.
I was personally impressed with a number of multi-touch products and have provided a few pictures of the top contenders:
QOMO Hitevision’s Touch Table (watch a video demo of it http://vimeo.com/44248548).
Promethean’s ActivTable (http://www.prometheanworld.com/en-us/education/products/interactive-displays/activtable).
SMART Table Interactive Learning Center (http://smarttech.com/table).
With all the latest interactive technologies demoed ISTE was definitely the most exciting education conference I’ve been to in 2012. My only regret is that all my friends in education couldn’t join me to test out the next-generation of teaching tools.
(Perhaps I have one other regret about not being able to stay out in San Diego for the next conference coming to the convention center – Comic-Con!)