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ISTE Launches Professional Development Site for Ed Tech at Annual Conference
At its annual conference this week in Denver, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) launched ISTE Learning, its own professional development Web site for the entire spectrum of education technology. The organization has designed ISTE Learning to serve as both a extensive resource for education professionals' technology-related needs and interests and an online meeting place for exchanging ideas, sharing best practices, and finding answers.
According to ISTE, the goal of the new site is to help educators incorporate all facets of education technology into their students' learning environments, specifically by showing them the myriad of ways that students themselves already use popular technology. Built upon ISTE's own National Education Technology Standards (NETS), a widely-referenced template for effectively incorporating technology into the 21st-century K-12 learning environment, ISTE Learning will offer a broad range of tools to help teachers at all levels of technological understanding, from novice to expert, to create their own classroom technology environments, aligned to their subjects, instructional methods, and goals and to preside over those environments with authority and mastery of both the technology and the culture that surrounds it.
A spokesperson said ISTE Learning plans to focus on four primary topics per year, with the inaugural topics including: Web 2.0, Project-Based Learning (PBL), Digital Citizenship, and Gaming and Simulations.
Members of the ISTE Learning community will maneuver their way around a "virtual city" consisting of four locales, each offering its own tools and methods for technology-focused professional development based on the user's needs, from a quick answer to a simple question, to step-by-step instruction in a particular aspect of technology, such as products, application, and even innovation and enterprise.
The locales include:
The Commons: A vast, searchable collection of free resources, including podcasts, Webinars, articles, and abstracts, for topical reference or just a chance to learn something new.
Learning Labs: Hands-on sessions for learning how to use and implement both well-established technologies and the latest "hot" products and ideas.
ISTE Cafe: The site's own "social network," a chance for users to meet their colleagues throughout the ed tech world, share and learn, or just chat, using forums, community roundtables, and hands-on activities.
ISTE U: A selection of short courses, given in a structured online learning environments, for educators to understand and apply the many components of the NETS for optimal results.
There will also be regular items covering new ideas, research, issues, and advances in software and devices. And users can discover the latest chatter in the ed tech world by visiting the site's blog, The Buzz.
Finally, users will have access to the ISTE Learning Store, where they can learn about and purchase books, software, multimedia, and other tools to aid in their ongoing professional development.
ISTE has made the home page, site map, and the Commons locale accessible immediately in order to give educators an overview of all the site will have to offer at build-out, and to allow them to sample some of the resources already available. The group estimated that the Learning Labs and ISTE Cafe will be available in October 2010, with ISTE U opening its doors in January 2011. A selection of Commons resources is currently accessible for NETS, Web 2.0, PBL, and Games and Sims.
Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.