ISTE 2019 Recap & Rundown with the Forward Edge Team!


Discover the Top Takeaways from the Forward Edge Curriculum & Technology Integration Team


Forward Edge booth on Edge•U at ISTE 2019!

The annual ISTE Conference & Expo is globally hailed as the most comprehensive educational technology conference in the world; Educators and education leaders have congregated at the ISTE conference for over thirty years in order to exchange ideas, network with other innovators, and engage in high-impact, hands-on learning. 

As such, this event attracts over 16,000 attendees regularly, which include all range of teachers, technology coordinators, library media specialists, policymakers, and other industry representatives. By actively participating in this annual event, these forward-thinking members of the industry bring their newly acquired skills and knowledge back to their companies, schools, and educational landscapes, which in turn propels these communities to even greater achievements. 

This is especially true for our Curriculum and Technology Integration team members that traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this past month to attend ISTE 2019 and introduce Edge•U Badges to the Edtech world. Each team member has brought a unique, valuable insight and skill set back to Forward Edge, helping keep our company as the technology edge for education. 

Though ISTE 2019 is over, the conference is still fresh in the minds of all. In a few words below, Michael Roush, Tracee Keough, Tyler Erwin, and Ruowei Fischer share their perspectives, insights, and key takeaways that they gleaned from their ISTE 2019 experience.






  • Project-based LearningStudent presentations were all about the projects they had worked on during the past school year. Technology was not the goal in these projects, it was the toolbox that helped students accomplish the goal. They were learning math, science, social studies, language arts, and more. And they were learning it all at the same time, shoulder-to-shoulder with their classmates.
  • Programming with Scratch – There are lots of amazing kits out there that you can get to get students into physical computing, controlling lights and motors with switches and sensors.  But most of them integrate some version of MIT’s “Scratch” blocks-based coding environment to make the magic happen.  
  • Equity is about mindsets and ensuring access – Flexible technology opens doors for students who need specialized assistance. Teachers are on the front line of identifying potential barriers to achievement and implementing technology in a way that enables students to accomplish what they would not have been able to do otherwise.
  • Embrace Artificial Intelligence – Quit worrying about what Artificial Intelligence will do to the future… decide what you want the future to be like and use AI (or any other tool at our disposal) to make it happen.
  • Digital Advocacy is the New Digital Citizenship – Teaching students to be safe, responsible, kind participants in the online universe is a noble pursuit, but it shouldn’t end there.  Teaching students how to take care of a book isn’t enough to help them learn to love reading. In the same way, students have an amazing opportunity to impact the world they already live in by becoming advocates for important causes.  We must leverage technology to do more than prepare students for the world they will live in, we must help them create the future reality they want the world to become.






  • Technology Creates Opportunities in the Curriculum – Teaching should not start with the technology tool but start with the curriculum or content and then create deeper meaning or opportunity by adding in the web 2.0 tools. 
  • Collaboration is Key – Remembering that letting students and teachers collaborate throughout the learning process is a great way to advance understandings. A quote that really sticks out to me is, “Just because you are done, doesn’t mean we are done.” Groups that finish should support each other and work to make sure everyone feels successful. 
  • Try Something New – Working together with teachers as a coach can lead to amazing things. By having the mindset to try something new and branch out from what is comfortable, there are amazing moments that can occur where the learning is more powerful than expected. This could be as simple as using a common tool in a new way, to trying a brand new tool in a simple way. Just try! 
  • Create a Vision-  Have teachers create a vision board to reach their goals. Make this something that is constantly changing when goals are achieved as well as something that is talked about with each meeting. Creating the visual to remind and engage oneself in the continued learning that is needed to meet the ever-changing classroom. 
  • Give Choice to Empower Deeper Learning: This graphic spoke to me from an article by A.J. Juliani that helped to sum up a lot of my sessions at ISTE 2019. By allowing students choice in their learning, we are giving them the ability to develop in the path, process, and pace that they need. 

Picture was taken from book entitled Empower.






  • Fact vs. Fiction – It is even hard for adults to decide if things are facts or fiction, and it would be harder for kids. Young adults prefer to use social media and get information from a mobile device. It’s very important for teachers to notice and practice and instruct students how to filter through information and get the correct fact.
  • Choose the Tech Tools that Suit You Most – There are so many tools out there and a lot of them are very similar. It is not necessary to try them all and teachers also don’t have enough time to invest time in all of them. However, start with one tool with the right purpose. The meaningful purpose of using technology tools is much more important than counting how many tools you have mastered.
  • Connect with the World – Teachers from Israel, Australia, France, Japan shared their way of embedding technology in their curriculum. Even though we are all in different countries, however, the goal is the same. The world is evolving, so should we. Connect with the world and collaborate together to better prepare our students’ future.
  • Getting Technical with Music and Art – We have been talking about STEAM for a while, however a lot of art teachers still struggling with using technology in their classroom. There are so many tools that will benefit them and some of the tools are even specifically designed for Music and Art teacher. Go out and explore.






  • Relationships, Relationships, Relationships – From teachers building relationships with their students to coaches building relationships with teachers, establishing a connection between individuals is key to successful teaching and learning. I loved the quote from the final ISTE keynote speech, “You have to Maslow before you bloom,” highlighting the importance of taking care of students needs, relationships, and emotions before you focus on critical thinking and learning tasks.
  • It’s Okay to Have Fun – Learning should be fun. And fun is oftentimes an earmark of meaningful learning. Lots of ISTE sessions focused on building community in fun, engaging ways, using digital media to create enjoyable learning experiences, and not taking ourselves too seriously.
  • Less Wires, More Connections – Vendors across the expo hall showcased new technologies that reduce the amount of wiring or tethering in the classroom but open up a plethora of ways to connect with others both in the classroom and abroad. Interactive TVs/whiteboards, wireless casting solutions, collaborative learning software, and global communication solutions dominated the offerings from major companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple and more.
  • Everyone Can Create – It doesn’t matter what access you have. It doesn’t matter what skills you were endowed with. Technology opens up doors to all sorts of possibilities. Creating is a uniquely human activity, and focusing on learning activities and digital tools that allow our students to create make the most of the learning experiences we foster for our students.


Taking the Next Step


Forward Edge is a Technology Solutions Provider for K-12 school districts, operating out of southwest Ohio, and we pride ourselves on our ability to stay ahead on the latest news in education technology. Attending ISTE is a vital part of making sure we are bringing the best solutions to our customers, day in and day out. We offer a variety of Professional Learning programs on the latest technology tools available to supplement your district’s PD initiatives, helping schools expand knowledge of technology and ways to integrate it into curriculum, aligning their practices with the most recent ISTE Standards for Educators, Coaches and Students, and offering services to improve classroom productivity and enhance student engagement.

If you are interested in learning more from any of our team members listed in the article above and what they encountered at this year’s ISTE 2019 conference in Philadelphia, or you would like to learn more about our online badging program for educators, Edge•U Badges, email our Director of Curriculum and Technology Integration, Katie Ritter Siemer at today!