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Best of 2021

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Tech & Learning has written about tools and ideas that transform education since 1980. All stories are written by experienced educators and journalists, and are reported, researched, fact checked, and edited in accordance with the highest standards of journalism. Tech & Learning is published by Future PLC, which also publishes Tom’s Guide, Tech Radar, Live Science, Space.com, and more than 100 other top brands, and is based in London, New York, Washington D.C., Bath and other locations around the globe.

Each week, Tech & Learning’s newsletter reaches 67,000-plus tech-savvy educators looking to stay aware of the latest trends, news, and tools in K-20. Our monthly digital magazine has a readership of more than 50,000 education leaders, teachers, and support personnel and more than 1.8 million users visited Tech & Learning in 2020. 

Tech & Learning's Editorial Guidelines are available here (opens in new tab)

STAFF

Christine Weiser

Christine Weiser is the Content and Brand Director for Tech & Learning, and has been with the company since 2008. She has reported on education for most of her career, working at Scholastic and Gale Publishing before joining Tech & Learning. Christine is also an author and musician, and lives in Philadelphia with her husband and son. 

Ray Bendici

Ray Bendici is an award-winning journalist, author, and editor, with more than 20 years of experience, including a specific focus on education. He lives in Connecticut with his two kids and a beloved backyard firepit. 

Allison Knapp

Allison Knapp is the Sales Account Manager for Tech & Learning, and has been with the brand since 2001. She loves helping solution providers meet and find success with the audience of Tech & Learning. Allison lives in the Bay Area, CA, with her husband, 3 kids, dog, cat, gecko, turtle, and fish. 

Erik Ofgang is a journalist, author, and educator. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and Associated Press. He currently teaches at Western Connecticut State University’s MFA program. While a staff writer at Connecticut Magazine he won a Society of Professional Journalism Award for his education reporting. He is interested in how humans learn and how technology can make that more effective. 

Katie Tait

Katie Tait is the Senior Marketing Manager for Tech & Learning Events. She has over 10 years of experience of marketing and delivering a range of events for the publishing and media industry. Home for Katie is in the UK, and she enjoys travel and socialising.

Dr. Kecia Ray is Tech & Learning’s Brand Ambassador. Her career includes designing technology within the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and directing technology research through Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Science Outreach programs. As a district administrator for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, she led the award-winning design, implementation, and evaluation of instructional technology programs, including instructional design for online and blended learning environments, redesigning physical learning environments, redefining school libraries, and establishing the first virtual high school to award the diploma. She leads K20Connect and other passion projects supporting K20 education around the world.

Marquita Amoah

Marquita Amoah is the  Event Partnership Development Director for Tech & Learning, and has been with the company since 2021. She has worked in higher education for most of her career, working at Barnard College and the University of Chicago before joining Tech & Learning. Marquita is also a writer and podcaster, and is a native New Yorker who now lives in Oakland. 

Jessica Piechota

Jessica Piechota has over 15 years of experience in planning, executing, staffing, and leading large corporate and social events. After 10 years in the higher education sector, she has joined Tech & Learning as an Event Manager. Jessica lives in Atlanta with her husband, three boys, and their cat Django.  

Anne Gregoire

Anne Gregoire is a recent graduate from the University of Mississippi with a degree in marketing. She comes from a background in the toy industry specializing in developing early education toys and resources. A native Atlantan, she currently resides and works in New York City. 

CONTRIBUTORS

Luke Edwards
Luke Edwards

Luke Edwards is a freelance writer and editor with more than two decades of experience covering tech, science, and health. He writes for many publications covering health tech, software and apps, digital teaching tools, VPNs, TV, audio, smart home, antivirus, broadband, smartphones, cars, and much more.

Stephanie Smith Budhai
Dr. Stephanie Smith Budhai

Dr. Stephanie Smith Budhai is an associate clinical professor in the department of Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum at Drexel University, holding a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies. She has more than a decade of online teaching experience, and has published myriad books, articles, and invited editorials surrounding the use of technology and online learning in education through major education publishers. Dr. Smith Budhai is the 2021 Emerging Leader for the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education and the 2017 ISTE awardee for Excellence in Teacher Education. 

Gwen Solomon was Founding Director of The School of the Future in New York City, Coordinator of Instructional Technology Planning for New York City Public Schools, and Senior Analyst in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Instructional Technology. She has written and co-authored several books and magazine articles on educational technology.

Carl Hooker has been a part of a strong educational shift with technology integration since becoming an educator. As Director of Innovation & Digital Learning at Eanes ISD, he has helped spearhead the LEAP program, which put one-to-one iPads in the hands of all K-12 students in his 8,000-student district. He's also the author of Ready, Set, FAIL!: Using Failure & Risk-Taking to Unlock Creativity (opens in new tab), designed to provide new ways to motivate learners of all ages and open up their creative pathways. Read more at Hooked on Innovation (opens in new tab)

Susan comes from a strong policy background as a former staffer in the U.S. Senate and Legislative Aide in the Iowa House of Representatives. Along with experience at both federal and state levels, she served as the Deputy Executive Director for the Center for Digital Education, worked for a government relations firm in Arlington, VA, and heavily worked on federal and state education policy at iNACOL, where she wrote published reports to move the field forward with innovative learning models, best practices, and policy recommendations.

Annie Galvin Teich has more than 25 years' experience in education writing and publishing. She is an edtech industry expert in content marketing and copywriting. As a regular contributor to Tech & Learning she focuses on the information needs of district decision makers.  

Diana Restifo has been Tech & Learning's web editor since 2010, and in that time, has covered a wide array of education technology news, resources, and products. Currently, she writes about the best websites and tools to help educators teach any topic creatively, with an emphasis on free and low-cost resources. 

TL ADVISORS

Stacy Royster is the CTO/Director of Technology for Opelika City Schools in Opelika, Alabama. She has been in the education field for the past 20 years serving as both a high school mathematics teacher and Director of Technology for the district. She holds a master's degree in secondary mathematics education from Auburn University and holds the Chief Technology Officer Certification from the statewide organization Alabama Leaders in Educational Technology (ALET). She currently co-facilitates the CTO certification program for the organization and works to prepare technology directors across the state for their role as a CTO.

Dr. Matthew X. Joseph is the Executive Director of Learning in Providence Public Schools, Rhode Island. He has been a school and district leader in many capacities in public education over his 28 years in the field. Follow him on Twitter @matthewxjoseph, visit his website at mxjspeaker.com (opens in new tab) or visit his blog: techinnovation.live (opens in new tab). He is also a regular contributor to Tech & Learning.

Presently Director of IT for the Township of Union Public Schools, Sandra Paul previously was a computer science and business education teacher. She was awarded administrator of the year by NJASL in 2007, a finalist for the 2014 Bammy Awards for Support Staff, and named in the Top 30 Technologists, Transformers and Trailblazers 2015. She served as the chairperson for Technology Advocacy for NJAET, co-chairperson for CoSN- NJ, Board member of NJGMIS, Chairperson CoSN-NJ member, has contributed to Sustainable Jersey Digital Schools Program and Future Ready Technology Leadership, and is an organizer for EdcampNJ.

Diane Doersch is a former classroom teacher, Director of Technology, and Chief Technology and Information Officer of a large Wisconsin school district. She is currently Director of Technology for the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (opens in new tab) Initiative at Digital Promise. Diane also serves on the CoSN Board of Directors, Northeast Wisconsin Women in Technology, and EquityEdu.

Rudy Blanco is the Director of Entrepreneurship and Gaming for The DreamYard Project (opens in new tab) and Founder of The Bronx Gaming Network based out of The Bronx, New York. His DreamYard work is based around the premise that the video game industry is rapidly growing with very little to no representation for BIPOC, queer, and women gamers both on and off screen. Blanco also focuses on the development of safe and inclusive online environments that represent all gamers.

Chris Aviles is a STEM teacher, edtech specialist, and president of Garden State Esports (opens in new tab). He is also a regular contributor to Tech & Learning.

Dr. Tracy Daniel-Hardy is the Director of Technology for Gulfport School District in Mississippi. She has 26 years of experience as an educator in various capacities including teacher, guidance counselor, and instructional technology specialist. She is an Innovative Directors Network member, Future Ready Tech Leader advisor, past President of Mississippi Educational Computing Association,
and a member of the Mississippi Department of Education’s Technology Advisory Committee, Mississippi Educational Technology Leaders Association, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and other civic organizations. She is also co-author of Shut'em Down: Black Women, Racism, and Corporate America Anthology and the Foreword author for Women Who Lead in Technology Volume 4.

Coming from the Bio-Tech field, Dr. Armstrong found a second career in education, as a teacher of 11 years, counselor, AP, Principal and advanced through administrative positions as a Director of English Language Learners, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, a California superintendent, an educational consultant for the Puerto Rico Department of Education Hurricane Maria Recovery efforts, and now as the Executive Director for the National Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (opens in new tab) in Washington, D.C. 

Frank is the Supervisor of Technology for the Linwood Public School District (Pre-K-8) in New Jersey. He advises and contributes to educational technology publications as well as speaks regionally and nationally about educational innovation and instructional technology.

Jon Castelhano is currently the Executive Director of Technology for the Gilbert Public School District in Gilbert, Arizona. Jon is a seasoned educator with more than 20 years in educational technology and 26 years in public education. He oversees all technology needs at Gilbert Public Schools, including a successful grades 7-12 1-to-1 initiative, and a technology services team dedicated to the students and staff of the district.

Beverly Miller spent the first 10 years of her IT career working in a corporate IT environment. She felt called to move to public education and became the first IT Director for the Greeneville City Schools in Greeneville, Tennessee, in 1995. She held that role for 17 years and was promoted to Assistant Director of Schools, a position she has now held for 9 years. She is passionate about providing best-in-class tools backed up by extraordinary customer service and support to the people she serves and leads.

Frank Murray has been in K-12 Education for 20 years and post-secondary education for 7 years. With his M. Ed in Educational Technology and 14 years training teachers on integrating technology, he has seen a lot of changes in the classroom. He has played a vital role in team building, planning, training, distribution, expectations, and follow through with a successful technology integration.

Todd Dugan is the Superintendent of Bunker Hill CUSD #8 located in Bunker Hill, Illinois. A rural, distant district, Bunker Hill is in the midst of both a digital conversion to 1-to-1 device environment while simultaneously changing both the pedagogy and learning environment. A 2017 Tech & Learning Leader of the Year and the 2018 Illinois State University EAF Superintendent of the Year, Todd has presented and published numerous times on education and disrupting inequity, digital and otherwise.

Dr. Adam Phyall, Director of Technology and Media Services in Covington, Georgia, focuses on how teachers can keep students engaged in rigorous learning by putting technology in the hands of students. Adam works directly with teachers showing them fun and easy methods of incorporating technology into instruction by “Putting the Pieces Together.” His philosophy on teaching is: “If you’re having fun teaching it, then your students will have fun learning it.”

Brandy is currently the Executive Director of Learning and Teaching in a large urban school district, serving more 141,000 students each year. For over 24 years, Brandy’s work has been grounded in race studies, equity, executive leadership, standards-aligned instruction, teacher preparation, and equity-based coaching. She started her career in Bronx, N.Y., as a middle school math teacher before serving as a school leader, executive coach, and district executive. Brandy holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mathematics from Salem College, a Masters in School Administration from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and a Doctorate of Education from North Carolina State University. She is also a regular contributor to Tech & Learning.

Shad McGaha serves as the Chief Technology Officer for Wichita Falls ISD, located in north central Texas. As the CTO, he is responsible for technology planning and resource management for all students and staff at the district's 26 campuses. In addition to his role in WFISD, he is also a member of ISTE, COSN, and TCEA, along with being the Past Chair for the Texas K-12 CTO Council. 

Phil Hintz is the Director of Student Information for Barrington School District 220 in Barrington, Illinois. In 2015, he was the recipient of ISTE’s Outstanding Leader of Year Award, in Philadelphia, and collaborated with the team at Gurnee School District 56 to be inducted into the League of Innovative Schools by Digital Promise. In 2017, Phil helped Gurnee D56 to earn the coveted ISTE Distinguished District Award. Most recently, Phil was awarded the 2019 Withrow CTO of the Year by the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN).

Lisa Nielsen has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997. Her areas of expertise include ed tech, digital citizenship, and digital accessibility. She is a prolific writer best known for her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator (opens in new tab). Nielsen is the author of Teaching Generation Text as well as several other books and her writing has been featured in various outlets such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. You can Tweet her at @InnovativeEdu. She is also a regular contributor to Tech & Learning.

Nikki Schafer is an Instructional Technology Facilitator, Board Member, grad student, and mom living in Omaha, Nebraska.

Eileen Belastock, CETL, is an educational leader who throughout her career in both the corporate and educational settings, has encouraged and supported both adult and student learners to challenge themselves to find their passions, be lifelong learners, and be contributing citizens in the global environment. Due to her work and involvement with state and national edtech organizations, she is a 2020 top 100 edtech influencer. Through her articles, she supports and highlights educators and administrators on their work to ensure digital equity and student safety.

Bill Bass is the Innovation Coordinator for Instructional Technology, Information, Library Media, and Federal Programs in the Parkway School District in St. Louis, Missouri, where he leads the district library program, instructional technology, grants, and innovation. He is an award-winning educator, international speaker, and past president of ISTE Board of Directors. During his 20+ career in education, he has held positions in both K-12 and higher ed, and has written numerous articles, book chapters and has authored three books on the role of technology in education. 

Amy Liang is passionate about transforming the way people learn through technology. She is currently the Director of Technology, Assessment, and Accountability for Los Gatos Union School District, a small district in Northern California with nearly 3,000 students. Amy oversees technology, state assessments, and the district STEAM initiative. Previously, Amy spent eight years as the Director of Instructional Technology for the Cupertino Union School District.

TL HIGHER EDUCATION ADVISORS

Alec Couros is a professor of educational technology and media at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina, in Saskatchewan, Canada. An award-winning educator, Alec helps his undergraduate and graduate students take up the incredible affordances of our connected world through the integration of educational technology in teaching and learning.

Rico D'Amore is the Director of the Academic Services Technology at Benedictine University, providing support and management of the online learning environment, Brightspace Design2Learn. At Benedictine University, he also has the opportunity to teach a College of Education course for pre-service teachers to help them create innovative learning opportunities and infuse technology into their classrooms.

Christopher Dechter, CTS-D, CTS-I, is the Manager of Instructional Technology at the University of Wyoming. In his almost twenty years of AV and IT, he has focused almost exclusively on the design and integration of technology in higher education at multiple institutions. He shares his AV stories with anyone willing to listen and, like the protagonist of terrible 1980s television, has spent his career traveling from town to town solving mysteries … of higher education technology. He hosts a podcast with five other AV nerds at AV SuperFriends (opens in new tab)  .

Gillian R. Hayes is Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate Division at UC Irvine. She is also the Robert A. and Barbara L. Kleist Professor of Informatics in the School of Information and Computer Sciences with courtesy appointments in computer science, education, and pediatrics. She also co-directs the global Jacobs CERES research network, and is a Jacobs Foundation Senior Research Fellow alumna and a Kavli Fellow from the National Academy of Sciences.  

Julie Johnston is the Director of Learning Spaces for Indiana University. This position manages four entities of UITS Learning Technologies: Classroom Technology Services, Learning Space Design, Collaboration Technologies, and Student Technology Computing. Along with managing these services, she is ultimately responsible for the technology component of the design of Learning Spaces for the campus. She was actively involved in assisting with the launch of Indiana University's new active learning initiative, Mosaic (opens in new tab),and has more than 20 years working in Instructional Technology Leadership positions in higher education. 

Robb Mann has been a member of the Information Technology Services department at UNCW for the last 16 years, and is currently the manager for the Integrated Educational Technologies (IET) group, which has oversight for all AV on campus. He has been a finalist for the UNCW Award of Excellence on three occasions (awarded to the outstanding staff member of the year), and has held his CTS certification since 2012 and CTS-I since 2014. Robb has been a member of the NC Classroom Summit organizing committee for the last seven years, as well as being a presenter and breakout session leader on many occasions.

Audrey Muhammad is an educator, writer, fitness instructor and inspirational speaker who has been an educator for 28 years in three school districts, and has been a mentor teacher and a facilitator of various workshops. She has authored four books and one audio book, including How to Set Worthy Goals and Rhymes of the Times: Black Nursery Rhymes. She is also the publisher of the inspirational Virtue Today Magazine, which has featured: Erykah Badu, May May Ali (daughter of Muhammad Ali), Dr. Ava Muhammad, Dr. Jewel Diamond Taylor, and Iyanla Vanzant.

Holly Owens is a Senior Instructional Designer with Academic Partnerships. She has more than 15 years of experience in education, including high school educator, instructional technologist, and podcast host. Holly has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in education and instructional design at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Coppin State University, and Northern Virginia Community College. For the past four years, she has been teaching instructional design courses with the Instructional Technology Program at Touro College, Graduate School of Technology. Her podcast, EdUp EdTech, is a go-to resource to stay updated with the latest and greatest edtech tools that are disturbing (in a good way) education. 

Justin Rexing is an Audiovisual Systems Design Engineer for Western Kentucky University. Justin has designed and engineered audiovisual solutions for various vertical markets from government and enterprise to large stadiums, corporate, entertainment, restaurants, and houses of worship venues. He has assisted in developing courses for AVIXA, and currently holds senior faculty status with AVIXA. Justin is a member of the AVIXA Foundation Board. 

Jameson Rinehart
Jameson Rinehart

Jameson Rinehart is an AV Systems Designer at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. Jameson has 15 years of navigating the intricacies of designing for higher education. He is a regular presenter at the annual Avixa conference. 

John Thompson
John Thompson

Dr. John Thompson is Associate Professor Emeritus at Buffalo State College, Buffalo, N.Y. He also operates his own educational consulting business - Global Learning Institute, Inc. Although retired, He continues to teach 100% online courses on a part-time basis. Prior to working in higher education, his career experience included working in urban, suburban, and rural schools as an elementary and secondary classroom teacher, curriculum coordinator, principal, and school superintendent. He also functioned as director of training for two state governments and director of a university-based computer training organization. 

Dr. Josiah Way is the Director of Learning Environments at the University of Southern California and 2019 AV Professional of the Year. He was named to EdTech’s Higher Ed IT Top Influencers list, and most recently was awarded the 2020 and 2021 AV Project of the Year. He is the CEO of the Higher Ed AV Media Group, hosts Higher Ed AV podcast, and is the co-founder and chair of the Higher Education Technology Managers Alliance. With more than 25 years’ experience in education, technical production, and organizational leadership and management, he is the author of Producing Worship, serves on the AVIXA Tech Managers and Diversity Councils, and has received awards in education, the arts, and business. He is a keynote speaker and writer for AV-industry and higher ed conferences and media outlets. 

Dr. Jonathan L. Wharton is associate professor of political science and urban affairs at Southern Connecticut State University. He currently serves on the New England Political Science Association, Connecticut Mirror and Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation boards. He is a frequent New York City tristate area NPR stations' contributor as well as for ctnewsjunkie.com, New Haven Register, and Connecticut Post. His teaching and research centers on state and local government, public policy, economic development as well as identity and coalition building politics. He is also a regular contributor to Tech & Learning. 

Kyle Whipple
Kyle Whipple

Kyle Whipple is an assistant professor in Education for Equity and Justice at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. Dr. Whipple graduated from the University of Minnesota with a PhD in STEM Education in June 2018 with a focus on science and mathematics. His research interest is focused on LGBTQ+ teachers and their implementation of inclusive pedagogy and curriculum. He started the LGBTQ+ Teacher Mentors organization in 2019 to create a social network connecting preservice and inservice teachers who identify as LGBTQ+. He taught science and mathematics in public-schools for twenty years, and he identifies as a queer trans man. 

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