Last year, around this time, I was an International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference wanna-be, lurking via #ISTE2013, drooling over tweets I was reading by those educators lucky enough to be in San Antonio at the International Society for Technology in Education Convention.
I went so far as to blog all about it last year, dubbing it The Best Conference I Didn’t Attend.
This year, I was fortunate enough to be accepted as a presenter, and so, I spent four glorious days last week at ISTE 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Long story short: it is all that it’s cracked up to be. Because of the innovative and immense variety of its sessions, because it’s teeming with “aha moments,” because it means networking with 16,000 like-mindeds, I plan on finding a way to attend every ISTE until the year of my retirement, and perhaps beyond.
Now, instead of recounting all the sordid details of four days of edtech euphoria, I will fixate on one idea: “Follow the Money.” Legend has it that the “Follow the money” phrase was the directive from Deep Throat, the anonymous source that lead to the breaking of the Watergate Scandal and the resignation of a United States President. “Follow the money” suggests that to find the truth of a matter, one need simply follow the money trail.
So, what does this have to do with ISTE 2014? What became readily apparent to me last week is that If one is to follow the money in education, one will quickly surmise that American Corporations, specifically tech-flavored ones, are currently courting American schools like a politician at a donor dinner.
I’ve been to my share of educational conferences and seminars, local, state and national, but in my 20 years of teaching, nothing has come close in scope or sponsorship to what I experienced last week at ISTE.
- Follow the numbers: 16,000 educators and education leaders
- Follow the corporations: 500 companies and 4,500 industry reps
- Follow the prestige: a cut-throat 10% acceptance rate for conference presenters
- Follow the learning: hundreds of robust, inspirational learning opportunities
- Follow the VIPs: sponsored networking events galore, top shelf ones requiring VIP badges
- Follow the Expo Hall: ISTE’s vender hall compared to that of most educational conferences is like Times Square compared to Mayberry Square
- Follow the Ads: for $13,000 your company can have a prime program ad; $4500 and attendees’ hands will touch your logo as they take the escalator between sessions. Advertising is ubiquitous at ISTE.
Clearly there is money to be made and influence to be gained at the crossroads of technology and education.
Just follow the money.