#ISTE2015 Roundup

Fireworks, barbecues and flip flops are definitely warm-weather necessities, but we also consider ISTE, media meetings and show floor demonstrations summer highlights. #ISTE2015 happened to be particularly unique for us. This year, CB&A launched its series of #BuzzHub events where we offered exclusive opportunities to our clients and the media. Below you'll find some of our favorite events that happened in and around ISTE, including the SETDA Emerging Technologies Forum, Hack Education, Speed Meetings, #BuzzHub and more!

Connect Now (#PurelySocial): After-Hours Social Event Offers Purposeful Networking at #ISTE2015

We've always known the importance of connecting with others and forming meaningful relationships. To that end, CB&A partnered with Winter Group to host Connect Now at ISTE 2015. This networking event occurred after the show floor closed and brought together marketing, sales, product development, media and association leaders in the education industry. The event, also known as #PurelySocial, was one of the highlights at ISTE for us!

Enjoy some of the sights and sounds from the event:

Trending Now: Educator-led Roundtable Discussions on Timely Issues

When we asked members of the media what they’re keeping their eyes on at ISTE, we received a multitude of answers that helped us understand which issues and topics would be buzzing this year. Some of which included personalized learning, blended learning, assessment and digital curriculum. During Trending Now, education leaders with diverse backgrounds came together to discuss relevant topics over a one-hour panel presentation. By bringing this conversation to ISTE, the event provided the media with access to expert opinions in the field of education. This year CB&A was joined by facilitator, Linda Winter, President of Winter Group and panelists Jennifer Gardner, Director of IT Finance & Subsidies in the School District of Philadelphia, Gina Piero, Instructional Coach of Worthington City School District in Ohio, Ray Wilson, Head of Security at North Penn School District in Pennsylvania, Helen Padgett, Ph.D., ISTE past President, Stephanie Ekis, Manager of Education and Learning of Tobii Dynavox and Dr. Phillip Lanoue, Superintendent at Clarke County School District in Georgia.

The Trending Now panel participants:

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Interact Now: One-on-One Interactions with Tools Putting Trends into Action

By transforming Media Central into BuzzHub, CB&A showed its continued commitment to visibility by offering its clients a series of media events at ISTE. As a result of our recent media survey, we found that the best time to speak with members of the media falls between the hours of 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. In order for our clients to gain the ideal coverage they were seeking and to accommodate the media, CB&A held Interact Now. These meaningful one-on-one interactions gave clients an opportunity to tell their stories and media members ample time to ask about a product, service or trend in the education space.

Here a few photos from Interact Now:

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Do’s and Don’ts of CTO Communications with Local Media

This is the final post in a four-part series, written by Charlene Blohm and Dennis Pierce, reviewing communications strategies discussed during the CETL Summit at the 2015 Annual CoSN Conference. 

School district CTOs can leverage local media to build support for their ed tech initiatives by being responsive and transparent, and by knowing how to pitch stories about their successes: These are among the key suggestions from a veteran education journalist.10801772_10152711524285778_836321094214681734_n

During the CETL Summit in Atlanta on March 19, we co-presented on how to maximize your value as a school district CTO by communicating more effectively with both internal and external stakeholder groups.

We also invited a special guest speaker to the summit: Jaime Sarrio, an education editor with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who presented some do’s and don’ts for communicating with the local media.


  • Learn which reporters cover your district, and routinely pitch ideas for stories to them. “New programs and initiatives are of interest to us,” Sarrio said, “especially if you can explain how they are geared toward student improvement.”
  • Speak in basic terms. “Some of us are familiar with education, while some are new to the beat,” she said. “The best reporters are able to boil things down to a very basic level for readers. Help us make things simple.”
  • Write brief pitches with basic information included: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Pitches might be rewritten for digital news items or developed into deeper stories, Sarrio said.
  • Include contact information and be ready to respond quickly. “We’re on tight deadlines,” she explained.
  • Provide supporting information such as documents, RFPs and expense details. “We’ll often gather more information than we need, but showing you’re transparent goes a long way to build trust,” she noted.


  • Provide inaccurate information or try to hide information. “Try your best to make sure names, figures, and details are accurate,” Sarrio added. “Everyone makes mistakes, but sources that prove to be unreliable will have trouble getting attention from the media.”
  • Do nothing. “There are great stories in your school and district,” she said. “How will we know about them if you don’t tell us?”
  • Try to control the story. “Trust is a two-way street,” she noted. “Not all reporters can or should be trusted. But if you find someone who is professional and credible, help him or her get the information they need to tell a great story.”
  • Take it personally. If there’s a negative story about you or the district that makes you angry, “express your opinion to the journalist,” she recommended, “and then be ready to move on.”

The Certified Education Technology Leader (CETL) program is a CoSN-led initiative to certify the skills and qualifications of school district CTOs. There are 135 CETLs from 22 states. To learn more about this designation or to register for the exam, go to

Speed Meetings at #ISTE2015

CB&A, in collaboration with Arc Capital Development, offered speed meetings at #ISTE2015 this year. These short, 10–minute meetings allowed six startup companies new to the education industry the chance to speak with key members of the media. After we surveyed the media, we noticed many of them don’t have media appointments the day before the ISTE show floor opens. CB&A took advantage of this opportunity and hosted a media event on Sunday, giving these startups a better chance to gain coverage and make the most of their ISTE experience.

Here are a few photos from the event:

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CB&A Will Offer Industry Expertise at SETDA Emerging Technologies Forum

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 5.03.32 PMIn the world of education technology, it’s hard to rival the month of June. Every year, occurring around the same time as ISTE, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) hosts its Emerging Technologies Forum for the entering cohort of Emerging Private Sector Partners (EPSP). And this year, our very own president and founder, Charlene Blohm, will be one of the experts at the forum facilitating discussions and offering industry expertise.

The three SETDA Channel Partners, CB&A, Academic Business Advisors and Arc Capital Development, have been chosen to lead a full-day workshop for EPSP. Charlene and others will assist the new cohort by exposing them to national policies, trends, research and best practices.

The cohort consists of nine startups focused on serving K-12 education needs. As part of a competitive application process, these companies were chosen based on their status as an organization, their ability to use technology to serve an education need and their potential for growth. By earning this rare opportunity, EPSP will be taught a variety of practices beginning with the Emerging Partners Workshop. The cohort will also have the opportunity to pitch their business plans and work alongside the SETDA Channel Partners and education technology leaders over the next year.

This year’s forum will be held on June 27 in Philadelphia, just before ISTE 2015 kicks off.

Hack Education – A “Must” Attend Event at #ISTE2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 3.38.43 PMISTE Unplugged is hosting its ninth annual Hack Education “unconference” the Saturday before ISTE. This year’s host is Audrey Watters of Hack Education fame. Be sure to join her and others in a highly involved social environment that has no formal presentations; just folks who want to learn and converse with others.

Drawing nearly 300 participants from around the world, the unconference, meaning organized in real-time, will start with the building of a session schedule and then spend the rest of the day in small, collaborative groups engaging in education dialogue. The sole purpose is to connect, share and form community around conversations you and others facilitate.

After you’ve enjoyed a little taste of the city of brotherly love, join unconference attendees at the “After Party” sponsored by Shutterfly and StudyBlue and coordinated by CB&A. Here you’ll be able to join CB&A and Hack Education attendees for networking, hands-on activities, door prizes and continued edtech conversations. We’ve even heard there might be a photo booth – how fun! And as an added bonus, the first 100 guests to arrive will receive a free drink ticket.Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 3.35.19 PM

Hack Education and the After Party are free for attendees thanks to the generosity of ISTE and its sponsors. If you are juggling other activities or travel, you’re welcome to attend any portion of the events. There is no formal sign up, but you can indicate your attendance at the Facebook page, or pre-register to save time at the After Party door.

More information on specific times and locations can be found here. We look forward to the events of Hack Education and seeing everyone at the After Party!

How CTOs Can Share Success with a Wider Audience

This is the third post in a four-part series, written by Charlene Blohm and Dennis Pierce, reviewing communications strategies discussed during the CETL Summit at the 2015 Annual CoSN Conference. 

How can you share your ed tech successes and build support among parents, community members, the media, and others? That was the focus of a recent summit for school district chief technology officers.10989972_10152711524170778_8703993973237046700_n

During the CETL Summit in Atlanta on March 19, we co-presented on how to maximize your value as a school district CTO by communicating more effectively with both internal and external stakeholder groups.

Here are some ideas for communicating externally with parents, community members and the press:

  • Consider how to frame your story.

What story are you trying to tell? You’re probably doing many terrific things in your district—but how can you communicate that succinctly and effectively to a wider audience?

To develop a concise “elevator speech” that clearly summarizes your district’s story, start by stating your district’s vision or mission. Then, explain how technology supports that vision, using one or two sentences. Finally, describe the results you’re seeing (or you hope to see) in a single sentence.

An example: “In the X School District, our mission is to graduate students who are independent thinkers, creative problem solvers, and effective communicators, ready for success. We have given every student in grades 4-12 a digital device, and we’ve redesigned our curriculum to be project-based and grounded in an authentic context. Consequently, we have seen a 20% increase in math proficiency and a 32% rise in ELA proficiency on our end-of-year state exams.”

You can use this model to help introduce your main district story—but also to describe each individual component or success within that larger story. This format (challenge, solution, results) underpins many case studies.

  • Get to know the ed tech trade press.

You’re probably reading many ed tech trade publications, such as eSchool News, THE Journal, Tech & Learning, District Administration and Scholastic Administrator.

These publications are hungry for content, and they’re always looking for articles bylined by educators and administrators in the field—which offers a great opportunity to showcase your successes to a national audience. (And, in turn, boost your credibility within your district, making it easier to gain buy-in and support for your ed tech vision.)

Consider introducing yourself to editors at these outlets and volunteering to serve as a source for any stories they are working on. Become familiar with their editorial calendars as well; if you know a publication is planning a feature on mobile learning, and you have some experience with this topic, you might pitch your district’s story.

  • Collaborate internally.

If you have a communications department in your district, leverage the expertise of these professionals to help you tell your district’s ed tech stories. Work with your curriculum department to share curriculum-related stories with a wider audience.

  • Keep it simple.

Know your audience. Avoid jargon, acronyms and over-used buzz words. When writing, adopt an informal, conversational tone.

Participants’ advice

During the CETL Summit, we led a group discussion in which participants talked about their biggest external communications challenges, and how they approach these challenges. Some suggestions:

  • Make the time to share your ed tech success with the wider community. “If you don’t tell your story, no one else will,” one participant said.
  • “Keep your comments short to increase the chances that your point comes through.”
  • “Give the media and community good things to say about you on a regular basis. This will build relationships and reputation.”
  • “Keep communication channels open at all time. Practice authentic transparency. Build credibility in everything you do.”

The Certified Education Technology Leader (CETL) program is a CoSN-led initiative to certify the skills and qualifications of school district CTOs. There are 135 CETLs from 22 states. To learn more about this designation or to register for the exam, go to

Announcing Purely Social, Networking with a Purpose at #ISTE2015

PurelySocialThe “hive” has been humming in preparation for CB&A’s ISTE BuzzHub, and the momentum continues as we announce the third event in partnership with the Winter Group, Purely Social. The after-hours reception offers attendees the opportunity to engage with marketing, sales, product development, media and association leaders in the education industry.

Purely Social will be held on June 29th from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. Walk over as the ISTE exhibit hall closes or continue the networking following the ISTE BuzzHub Trending Now event. Consider this your chance to put a face-to-a-name, explore partnerships, mingle with media, and enjoy inspiring conversations with exceptional people. We look forward to having you!