Ed Tech Conference Reflections

The Principal & Education Technology Conference on Wednesday proved to be an inspiring day filled with thought-provoking presentations and dialogue.  Here are some of my highlights:

  • Channel 1 News Interactive offers an exciting (not to mention easy) way to integrate daily fresh content into the classroom to spark discussion and debate.  I think teachers, particularly elementary teachers, often struggle with bringing current events into the classroom in an age-appropriate way.  Channel 1 News Interactive offers an alternative way to share and discuss current events through multi-media (video, animations, images, etc.) resources.  The fact that the new stories are reported by young people and feature the perspectives of young people makes them even more relevant and meaningful.  And, Channel 1 News Interactive even creates follow up news stories based on students’ responses.  Very cool.
  • Kevin Baird’s keynote reminded us that teaching today should focus on thinking rather than knowing.  It resonates with a key question that I use to gauge the quality of a learning experience – “are you asking a student to think or to remember?”  He tied this to the Common Core State Standards movement, highlighting that the initiative is really about changing our instruction or practices in the classroom – less about changing content.
  •  I thoroughly enjoyed Sara DeWitt’s presentation sharing some of PBS’ interactive learning projects.  First, I appreciated their approach.  The product development process she described was very exploratory and user-centered.  For instance, she highlighted that they are interested in understanding if motion and movement help to further or deepen the learning for young children.  The games she shared (some online, some apps) were great examples of leveraging the affordances of the technology to enrich the user’s experience.  For instance, using the computer’s webcam to capture the user’s movement which triggers action in the game or using the computer’s microphone to capture audio (a clap) to pop and count bubbles on the screen.  And, of course, their commitment to research and evaluation is wonderful.  SRI International studied the impact PBS KIDS Raising Readers media-rich curriculum had on preschoolers and the results are impressive.  Check out some of the new experiments at PBS Kids Lab here.

Thank you to all who attended the conference!

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