I left teaching over 15 years ago. At the time, I was working as a K-6 technology coordinator at a school in San Francisco. Technology integration into classroom teaching, particularly use of the internet as a research tool, was just starting to really ramp up in my school and others. Within my network at the time, the charge was largely being led by librarians, tech coordinators, and a few forward-thinking classroom teachers.
My first few years of teaching, I remember seeing students who were much more tech-savvy than their teachers. It's why I made the jump to EdTech. I recognized that use of educational technology in schools and individual classes was inevitable, and I wanted to embrace this change and keep pace with the students. However, despite the advances in educational software and computers and the eagerness of students to use them, a lot of teachers were still resisting this change. Lack of appropriate teacher training was a large factor in getting more classroom teachers to buy in at the time.
Even though I was a tech coordinator during my last couple of years of teaching, my experience attending EdTech conferences came in the years immediately after I left teaching for a role running Yahoo!'s kids and education businesses. I loved the ability to meet educators in person that conferences like CUE and NECC provided. Next to meeting with teachers at their schools, there was no better way to connect with early EdTech adopters who could benefit from our products.
Back when I first started attending EdTech conferences, more than a decade ago and now with Booktrack, the changes I've noticed have been amazing. Not just with the advances in technology, but in the way all educators are embracing and pushing the adoption of EdTech. Librarians and tech coordinators were still well represented, but it was great to see classroom teachers of all ages, principals, and even school board members at ISTE sharing how they were using technology in their schools, and seeking the latest ideas for using EdTech to improve student learning and outcomes.
I knew teachers would love Booktrack once they experienced how we are working to improve student literacy by making reading and writing more fun, and ISTE was a great way to get the word out. Not sure if it was the fact that we improve reading comprehension by 17% and engagement 30%, or if everyone just loved that our platform is free, but it was amazing to see the positive feedback from nearly every educator we met. The feature requests and suggestiosn they shared are already guiding our next wave of product development, and are helping us to create an even more useful platform for teachers and students.
Manning a booth as an exhibitor over three days at a conference like ISTE is hard work, but the chance to meet and share ideas with educators is priceless. A lot has changed in the world of EdTech since my last conferences years ago, but meeting educators and being able to share Booktrack with them proved that conferences like ISTE are exactly where we need to be. Bring on ISTE 2015….
Jason Hovey is a former elementary and middle school teacher and K-8 technology coordinator. After teaching, he was General Manager for Yahoo!'s Kids and Education businesses and worked at several startups focused on kids, families, and games. He currently works as Booktrack's Vice President of Business Development and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and three daughters, all of whom still thankfully love to read and write.