The ISTE Board of Directors met in Houston in March. Here are some highlights of the meeting.

Visit to Houston ISD headquarters

The board met with officials at the Houston Independent School District to talk about the secrets to a successful 1:1 implementation. Chief Information Officer Lenny Schad and Senior IT Manager Beatriz Arnillas said the district’s vision is to be great all over, and achieving greatness starts with creating a culture of excellence, engaging stakeholders, creating rigor and accountability in all practices, and evolving schools into 21st century learning centers.

The Houston district is the seventh largest in the nation, serving 215,000 students. The student body encompasses a wide range of economic, social and ethnic diversity.

Leading this digital transformation is a program called Power UP, an initiative aimed at “powering up” all 282 of the district’s schools to create a personalized learning environment for students and enable teachers to more effectively facilitate instruction, manage curriculum, collaborate with their peers and engage today’s digitally wired students.

Schad said the district began the process by asking themselves three key questions: Why did they want to implement a 1:1 program, what was the intended outcome and how would it support learning objectives?

Next they moved on to the “how” phase, which included:

  • Deploying communications and marketing efforts to inform and invite input from the community.
  • Preparing teachers by identifying curriculum needs.
  • Assessing the strength of the technology infrastructure.

Power Up kicked off in 2013 at 11 campuses, chosen because their principals were passionate about change and their staff was already trying new teaching strategies with technology. Campus leaders garnered support from parents and community members.

As the district looked at curriculum, the first decision was to stop doing things that didn’t help them achieve their goals. They evaluated textbook requirements and developed blended content to support teachers. They created a new professional development program and assigned instructional technologies to each of the campuses to provide ongoing support to teachers, who were compensated for attending training sessions on Saturdays. They even created early dismissal days to give teachers more time for professional learning.

The district monitored how the bandwidth was managed, evaluated filtering programs and developed a plan for upgrades.
At each site, students participated in a digital citizenship course to help build their understanding of how to be safe and responsible online. They integrated elements of the digital citizenship program into back-to-school programs and open house nights to help parents and community stakeholders understand how the district was protecting student identities and keeping students safe online.

A cross-functioning team withrepresentation from curriculum, professional development, technology,communications and instructional technology contributed to the success of the program. As issues came up, the team would come together to develop solutions. They were also the first line of support for pilot schools.
Want to learn more about how the district achieved greatness? Check out Lenny Schad’s book Bring Your Own Learning.

ISTE is fostering connecting

As a part of the organization’s policy governance model adopted in 2011, the ISTE Board of Directors leads organizational excellence by setting and monitoring END statements. It is the responsibility of the ISTE CEO to interpret the END statements and develop action plans for how the objectives of the statements will be achieved.

ISTE CEO, Brian Lewis reported out on END 1.3, which centers on how ISTE fosters connections within and beyond the ISTE community. Highlights from the report, included:

  • Record-breaking attendance at ISTE 2014, in Atlanta, Georgia, and rapid growth in ISTE social platforms (see the stats in our annual report).
  • Introduction of virtual conferences as a new member resource.
  • Transition of the ISTE Professional Learning Network to a new community platform in the Connect section of the ISTE website.
  • Launch of the new member magazine, entrsekt.
  • Launch and exciting growth rate of new online content platform, the EdTekHub.
  • Launch of new products and innovative partnerships, including Project ReimaginEDVerizon Innovative Learning Schools and Verizon Mobile Learning Academy.
  • Meeting with Houston Independent School District to talk about the secrets to a successful 1:1 implementation.

ISTE Corporate Relations – new leadership

New ISTE Chief Corporate and Foundation Relations Officer Rebecca Caldwell gave a presentation on what’s new in the ISTE Corporate Relations Program and led a thoughtful discussion with board members around ideas for how ISTE can partner with corporations and foundations to advance our organization’s vision and mission.