Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Future of Education Technology Conference and it was such an amazing experience to meet up with so many folks working hard to bring the best educational experience to the classroom. There were people there from all over the country and even across the globe. There is definitely a shift in the way technology is being used in the classroom, and I am excited to work with our own staff in implementing some new ideas that will bring about the meaningful experiences that our kids deserve.
Pre-Conference Future of IT Summit
One of the best parts of this conference was the pre-conference summit where over 300 educators gathered to discuss the future of IT, network and listen to a few amazing speakers talk about the importance of building strong relationships with students. Eric Sheninger, Senior Fellow and Thought Leader on Digital Leadership with the International Center for Leadership in Education, gave an inspiring keynote on "bringing the awe back in to learning." It is so easy to get caught up in the chaos of standardized testing and big data, that sometimes we forget to inspire. Obviously, testing is a necessary evil, but we have to be mindful about the way our students best learn and if that means moving away from traditional methods of educating, it is something that we should do.
VR and Robotics
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One of the trends this year is Virtual Reality and Robotics. These technological tools have taken off in the classroom due to the affordability, engagement factor and the real learning experiences that come with them. Virtual Reality has allowed the classroom to break outside of the traditional 4-walls and move into a new reality where students can increase their depth of learning and experience classroom content in a very engaging way.
Another fun tool happens to be classroom robots. These cool little gizmos allow students to think creatively and work on coding skills and even solve real-world problems. There are many different products out there, but I was fascinated with the Sphero bots because of their ease of use and affordability. These wonderful tools can help supplement classroom instruction and inspire students to take ownership of their learning.
Fear of Technology
Technology grows at an exponential rate and some of the world's most greatest advancements have happened in the last 20 years. This is exciting and scary at the same time as it highlights the advancement of our civilization but also shows how difficult it is to prepare our students for a world that will be much different than our own. Sometimes the fear of the unknown can be paralyzing, but we must not let that deter us from taking that giant leap forward. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that, "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." This is especially true in education. Even though we don't know what the future holds, we must have faith in our abilities and in our own students to take this world on. This is why it is important to inspire our students to think critically and problem solve on their own, to show them how to communicate and collaborate, because our world will never be perfect. Since our world will never be perfect, there will always be problems to solve, and people to help. This is where we can make a difference, not in how well our students test, but how they impact the world.
Director of Technology and Media Services