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Artificial Intelligence, Spotting 'Fake News,' and Digital Equity: What to See at ISTE 2019

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Artificial Intelligence. Augmented and Virtual Reality. Digital Equity. Fake News.

All those topics have made headlines this year—in Education Week and elsewhere—and all of them are splashed over the agenda of the country's largest education technology conference, which kicks off in Philadelphia this weekend.

The International Society for Technology in Education will draw thousands of teachers, school administrators, and researchers from across the world, not to mention the dozens of ed-tech companies hungry for a piece of the K-12 market. Ben Herold, an ISTE veteran, will be moderating a panel on meeting the ed tech needs of extraordinary students. Follow Ben at @BenjaminBHerold. And I'll be at ISTE for the first time! Follow me on Twitter at @AlysonRKlein.

Can't wait for the conference? Here's a quick preview of what it has to offer on four hot topics, plus some good Edweek reads to get you ready for those sessions. 

Artificial Intelligence

If you're looking for insights into what has to be the hottest buzzword in ed tech—AI—you're in luck. Artificial Intelligence, the kind of machine-learning that helps Alexa turn your floor lamps off and on—is becoming a (nascent) force in education technology, and even in curriculum, as schools begin to prepare students for the jobs of the future.

ISTE will give educators the opportunity to delve into both the tech and teaching and learning sides of AI, through sessions on how to help students explore AI and guiding students on AI projects, and hear a teacher's reflections on what it's like to teach AI to high school kids.

Reading List: 

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented and virtual reality are becoming more and more common in education technology tools. Are they useful for motivating students, or just a giant distraction?

Teachers and administrators can explore that question through a session on virtual field trips, a look at the impact of augmented reality's impact on student motivation and success, and even through a virtual reality escape room.

Reading list:

Digital Equity

Ed tech may be an $8 billion industry, but that doesn't mean that all kids have equal access to it. An astonishing 17 percent of students don't have a computer at home and 18 percent don't have a broadband connection. Plus, while vendors may promise all sorts of tech benefits for underserved populations, it's not clear that they always deliver.

Educators can delve into those issues through sessions on exploring the equity challenge for both teachers and teacher educators, a conversation with educators on how they've been able to break through patterns of inequity, and other workshops on making tech accessible for students in special education and English language learners.

Reading list:

Media Literacy and 'Fake News'

The 2020 election is right around the corner, and already experts are warning that "deepfake" videos, including one that showed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemingly drunk, are way too easy to create. Want to know how educators can help their students sort through widespread disinformation online, while also figuring out how to use digital tools to solve big problems, and cut down on screen time?

Ed-tech leaders can learn how to turn spotting fake news into a game, how to teach critical thinking skills in the digital age,  hear from a middle school teacher who works with her students to surface and weed out 'fake news.', and more.

Reading list:

What else should we be watching for at ISTE? And what parts of the conference are you most excited for? Hit up the comments section, or email me at [email protected] See you in Philly! 

Image: Getty


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