10 great education tools I got to know at ISTE 2017

An aerial view of educators gathering at ISTE.

I had the privilege of attending the ISTE 2017 (International Society for Technology in Education) conference in San Antonio, Texas, from June 25 – 28. Though it had been many years since I last visited such a conference, the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Travel Program helped me be there in person, for an event that I’d describe with two words: overwhelmingly awesome.

ISTE was held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. It is one of the largest venues I have ever experienced. We were told that approximately 21,000 educators visited the conference. If you have never attended a national conference, believe me when I say it is a wonderful experience. ISTE has numerous opportunities to learn, including concurrent sessions, poster sessions, technology playground sessions, keynotes, and one of the largest technology exhibits you will ever see.

As a high school teacher librarian, working in Arkansas, and a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, I am always striving to learn new things for the learning community I serve. Conferences like ISTE provide prime opportunities to explore new educational technologies, learn about new apps and tools, and connect with new educator friends from all over the world.

These are just 10 of the modern education tools I got to know at ISTE:


1. Lifeliqe

I have been exposed to Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in limited amounts over the past few years. Words can’t describe the immersive experience I had while trying out Lifelique’s VR products. I saw everything, from what appeared to be a life-size horse to the International Space Station, while wearing a VR headset. In addition, Lifeliqe also has an app that allows students to view 3D models with amazing detail.

2. Hololens

I’ve heard about Microsoft Hololens over the past year and was so excited to finally experience it at ISTE. It was amazing to view 3D Models in a Mixed Reality environment. (The user can still see what is really around them, in addition to viewing 3D items.) The most amazing part of the Hololens is that everything is on-board the device – no bulky cables needed. The user can simply click options with their fingers in mid-air!

3. Microsoft Translator

I attended a special focus session for the Microsoft Translator app. This free tool will allow users to log in and select their language. They are then given a code to share with other users, who can join and be part of the conversation in their own respective languages. There are amazing possibilities with this app.

4. micro:bit

These are impressive pocket-sized computers that students can use to program and build projects of all sorts. They can use LEDs to send messages, or use its advanced motion detection capabilities to accomplish their goals.

5. Skype Virtual Field Trips

I only recently learned about Skype in the Classroom’s many Virtual Field Trips. Users can create a free account online and select from numerous field trips with National Parks, Historical Societies, and much more. Don’t forget to investigate Mystery Skype while you’re there.

6. Sway

I saw a few ISTE sessions on Sway. This cool digital storytelling tool allows users to share photos, reports, videos, and even Tweets in a big presentation. You can try it online or download the free app.

7. Minecraft: Education Edition Code Builder

My students are crazy about all things Minecraft. I didn’t know that students could write code for their Minecraft creations by using the Code Builder tool. Now I do!

8. Morph Tool in PowerPoint Online

I learned that PowerPoint Online has a new Morph tool that allows users to move objects in transitions from slide to slide. This gives students more digital storytelling powers in their presentations.

9. Microsoft Partner Apps – Ohbot

While visiting one of the Microsoft Booths, I learned about a few of their partner apps. One that I really liked was Ohbot. This is a robot head that students can program by arranging blocks (similar to Scratch). Ohbot can be programmed to speak and make realistic movements.

10. Office 365: Word Online and Downloads

If your school has Office 365, you may not know that students have access to web versions of Microsoft Office tools and can install Office 2016. This is a great benefit to young learners that need the publishing benefits of Microsoft Office on whichever device they use at home.

Reflecting back on ISTE, I learned so much in just a short time. The most powerful opportunities allowed me to see various technologies demonstrated in person. It was great being immersed in so much content and with such a large population of attendees from all over the world. I can’t wait to visit an ISTE conference again in the future.

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