The first two months of the year is a busy season for edtech events. From the TCEA to
BETT to FETC, Tech&Learning was on the scene. Here are some of the best bits.
Top 10 FETC 2014 Takeaways
By Jodi Samsinak
1 Every student has the right to ask, “Why are we doing this?” and
“How does this relate to my future?” If we can’t answer these
critical questions, it’s time to take a step back.
2 Nothing lasts forever, except your social media posts. Keep
teaching digital citizenship.
3 Every teacher needs to leave a digital footprint. Our students
should have access to our content 24/7. This isn’t only for
students, but for our stakeholders as well.
4 Collaboration is critical. We’re no longer working in an
environment where we can choose to work alone.
5 Social media is not a bad word. In the past, education and social
media have not blended. At FETC, presenters showed us that
they can and must go hand in hand.
6 Social media is great, but it’s also great to turn it off. Wherever you
are, be present. Set a time limit for yourself and your students.
7 Kids aren’t just texting anymore. They’re taking pictures…in your
class! So why not let them take pictures and incorporate apps like
Instagram into your curriculum? Before they write about the content,
ask them to storyboard it with digital imagery.
8 Our schools are still the place where kids use technology the least. If
we’re preparing them for a tech future, then we better be preparing
them by using the tools that they’ll need for success in their future.
9 It’s not what I learned at FETC (or at any conference), it’s who I
connected with. Establishing, supporting, and growing your PLN
10 No app can replace a great teacher! Even at FETC, where I was
surrounded by Google Glass, Tobii eye mobile (eye tracking
mouse), sketchnoting, and other amazing apps, the overwhelming
takeaway is that no technology will ever replace us.
Jodi Samsinak, an IB English teacher at Ozark High School in Ozark,
T&L Celebrates Awards
of Excellence at TCEA
A fine time was had by all at Tech&Learning’s Awards of
Excellence reception, which is held every year in conjunction
with the Texas Computer Education Association’s conference
in Austin. More than 70 education technology products were
recognized as winners. Honored software, hardware, network,
and Web gear included innovative applications that break new
ground as well as those that added significant enhancements
to proven education tools. A panel of more than 30 educators,
who tested more than 150 entries, chose the winners. We look
forward to even more new great edtech coming out in 2014.
Center of Excellence in
Learning Opens at Science
In January, Science Leadership Academy (SLA) and The Franklin
Institute in Philadelphia announced a partnership with Dell that will
make the school the first in the nation to deploy the Dell
Chromebook 11 as part of its new “Center of Excellence in
Learning.” This Center will go beyond a 1:1 Chromebook
deployment. Thanks to more than $620,000 in grant
money and education technology from Dell, the Center
will also enable SLA to share its well-known model of
inquiry-based learning with schools around the country
through real-time and online professional development
“The Center for Excellence at Science Leadership Academy is
going to involve a number of different things—not the least
of which is that we are moving our 1:1 program to the Dell
Chromebook,” says principal Chris Lehmann. “What differentiates
this grant is that it not only brings technology
to our school, but allows us to create the Center
of Excellence. This funding will allow us to invite
educators from all over the world to come see
what we do. The technology is used in service of
our inquiry-driven, project-based curriculum. This is a very specific
kind of teaching and learning, and our hope is that this partnership
will allow us to reach more educators and bring what we do at
SLA to other districts.”
Bett Panel: Measuring What Matters
At the recent BETT show, Tech & Learning decided to
take on the topic of “Measuring What Matters: Soft
Skills Made Visible” at a Learn Live panel discussion. The
panel included T&L U.K. advisor Terry Freedman of www.ictineducation.org, as well as professors, teachers, and
consultants from the U.S. and England. The conversation
revealed some interesting observations.
■ Margaret Cox, a professor who has done a lot of
research on assessment, said, “It [is] crucial to build
in time and opportunities for students to reflect on
what they [have] learned. She also said, “It [is] crucial
to measure the right things,” and she pointed out that
students might have learned something completely
different than what you, as the teacher, had intended
for them to learn.
■ Paul Hutton, a consultant from England, spoke about the joy
of programming, and talked about the excitement that kids
experience when learning and technology come together:
“Skills like collaboration are not new at all, and our kids must
learn how to fail.”
■ Megan Power, a kindergarten teacher from the U.S., said,
“Youngsters must be taught to be thinkers, and these so-called
‘soft skills’ must be built into the curriculum.” She also
emphasized the need to provide children with opportunities to
solve problems rather than slavishly following a textbook.
■ Sacha van Straten, a high school teacher from England, asked:
“Why not use a Google Doc to capture a discussion and Google
Analytics to track the conversations that take place there?
Given that kids are learning socially, does assessment even
■ Crispin Weston, a consultant from England, also questioned
our assessment practices: “Are we measuring performance or
capability? Examinations provide only a snapshot at a certain
point in time.”
Overall, each member of the panel made excellent points. And
while people may not have left with all the answers, at least they
knew that they were not the only ones asking the questions!