In 1986, approximately 30 educators came together to form Illinois Computing Educators (ICE), as a statewide initiative to offer professional development opportunities for teachers, technology coordinators, library media specialists, administrators, higher education representatives, school support staff and other stakeholders in Illinois education. The organization — now 10,500 members strong — is continuing efforts to support the development, growth and use of technology in all facets of the educational process as educators seek to prepare students for the 21st-century workplace.
As an education strategist at CDW•G, I’ve had the pleasure to attend and speak at the ICE conference on three occasions, and I can say with certainty that this year’s conference, #ICE18, will be one of the best since its inception. It will be held from Feb. 26-28 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumburg, Illinois. The conference, which more than 3,600 people attended in 2017 according to ICE, will hold more than 400 informative sessions and workshops.
I asked former teacher and administrator, Amber Heffner, who is the executive director of ICE, to talk about some of the conference highlights. She prepped me for an intriguing lineup filled with sessions, keynotes and exhibits focusing on professional development for educators, leadership skills-building for administrators and top tech devices and solutions for IT professionals.
EDTECH: #ICE18 is right around the corner. What are a few things you’re excited about?
HEFFNER: There will be many new and inspiring experiences for #ICE18! We are excited to have CDW•G create a modern learning environment for educators to experience what classrooms today can not only look like, but how they can better facilitate learning.
Another delightful development is the larger ICE Personal Learning Network (PLN) Plaza with a vendor theater and large makerspace area in our exhibit hall.
EDTECH: What does #ICE18 have to offer attendees that is different from last year?
HEFFNER: We are extremely excited about our new conference venue at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center. The change gave us an opportunity to reflect and reiterate on the programming of our conference as well.
New also this year is a Playful Learning Space where we will showcase a variety of games that can be integrated into a gaming club as well as into your classroom. Attendees will have the opportunity to play a variety of games throughout the conference.
We are also showcasing esports this year. We will have a special program demonstrating an esports competition and have districts share how esports has impacted the students in their districts.
EDTECH: Who are the ideal attendees for #ICE18? Is there something there for administrators, too?
HEFFNER: Anyone in education is going to find something to attend at #ICE18. Part of the review of our previous programming and changes for 2018 included a more detailed look at the strands we offered for our attendees.
It’s a sheer pleasure that we have such a large number of principals and superintendents presenting this year as well as some of the top ed tech leaders throughout the U.S.
This year, #ICE18 offers attendees the unique opportunity to learn and share with over 3,500 educators covering a wide spectrum of topics. Learning strands include:
- Library media and learning spaces
- Professional learning and coaching
- Special education and English as a second language/English language learners
- Teaching and learning
You can view our strands and filter the content/sessions for those strands at ice18conference.sched.com.
EDTECH: You have a great lineup of speakers this year. What can you tell us about this year’s keynote speakers and why they were selected?
HEFFNER: We do have an all-star lineup this year and we are very appreciative that they are all able to attend. In order to celebrate the past ICE conferences and the new and updated ICE conference, we wanted to bring together some speakers who had not been at our conference in a while with some new speakers as well, as some of our more recent speakers. You can check out the #ICE18 all-star lineup.
We are also looking forward to having EdTechTeam participate as ICE partners this year. Holly Clark, head of the publishing division at EdTechTeam, will be speaking at #ICE18 along with Jennifer Williams, co-founder of Calliope Global Education Initiatives, and ISTE CEO, Richard Culatta, will be joining us remotely.
On [Feb. 26], Chris Ulmer, founder of Special Books by Special Kids, will share his exciting insights from working with and meeting students with disabilities. We wanted to highlight the important work Chris is doing as social emotional learning (SEL) and special education (SPED) are vital to continuing to evaluate educational opportunities for students everywhere. We are opening this up to the community for free as well as to ICE attendees.
EDTECH: How is ICE partnering with ISTE this June for the ISTE 2018 conference in Chicago?
HEFFNER: ICE has had the fortunate opportunity to partner with ISTE on the programming for the 2018 conference. As ISTE 2018 regional program chair, I put together a team of six co-chairs and we worked with the ISTE program chair and team. We recruited teams from across the Midwest and the U.S. to review ISTE proposals. We are so fortunate to have amazing educators (teachers, tech directors, administrators and more) who put in hours of volunteer time to review and develop what we believe will be one of the best ISTE conferences ever. We are continuing to work with ISTE on some new programming as well — more on that to come later.
Follow EdTech’s coverage of #ICE18 on the official conference landing page.