Ed-Tech Redux: Takeaways from iste2014
If you have not guessed by now, I am very excited about the iste2014 conference that was just held in Atlanta, GA. Once again, the folks at ISTE have found a way to bring “connected learning” to the masses. They also made it easier than ever, this year, to stay connected to the conference even if you were not able to attend. One of the teams that I followed throughout the conference was the team from SmartBrief Education, and they have just published takeaways from the conference that I hope will be useful to you as you prepare for the upcoming school year. While I love the list from SmartBrief’s senior education editor and custom content editor, Melissa Greenwood and Kanoe Namahoe, there were definite standouts from their list that I wanted to highlight for you:
- I love that SmartBrief’s editors heard loud and clear that we must recognize struggling students and intervene. I always encourage my faculty to listen to their gut. I find that children sometimes hesitate to seek help from teachers; therefore, we have to use our instincts to make sure students are not suffering in silence. Technology can also help us “identify struggling students early so that we can take action.” Greenwood and Namahoe suggest schools consider a program like MindShine to help teachers identify at-risk students.
- SmartBrief’s editors also talked about ISTE’s push to help support schools and teachers continue to move away from a “one-size-fits-all approach to learning.” This is not a new initiative for schools; however, it is one initiative that has proven tough for schools to gain any real traction. I am hopeful that with more affordable (cheap or free) (developmentally appropriate) personalized learning tools, schools will be able to better serve the needs of every child regardless of their learning profile. The SmartBrief team suggested several products and services like Copia and Learning.com, Compass Learning, Learning Upgrade, and (a favorite) Lexia Learning.
- Additionally, SmartBrief’s editors discussed a topic that more and more schools are talking about (and that we have needed to talk about for the past thirty years). SPACE + LEARNING! One of the essential questions that we should be asking ourselves is how do we create classroom spaces that reflect the needs of a 21st century learner? While I agree with Greenwood and Namahoe’s call to create spaces that “foster collaboration and student-centric learning,” I also challenge us to be more explicit in the skills that we are teaching as we “rethink our learning spaces.” I want our classrooms to foster creativity and critical thinking. And, I absolutely want children to leave our classrooms able to make decisions and solve problems. Greenwood and Namahoe reference furniture provider Steelcase as an example of a forward designer “creating flexible, collaborative learning spaces” for the 21st century learner.
Ultimately, I hope we are gaining a better understanding of what it takes to make educational technology a larger part of the (overall) discussion in education. We can no longer think about technology in isolation or as an add-on to the curriculum. Now, more than ever, we should be using technology to extend and enhance learning instruction in all areas of the school. To learn more please click here. tlb