The IBM Conference Center in Palisades, New York was the setting for this year's annual Fall Tech Forum event, where education thought leaders gathered for a rich, packed day of professional development sessions and networking with colleagues and industry experts. Topics included emerging technologies, ROI in education, 1:1 computing, data driven decision making, leadership, security, and more. With just over 200 attendees, the event encouraged intimate interaction among all-within breakout sessions, participatory workshops and roundtable discussions, over table top displays, and during luncheon and end-of-the-day receptions.
Participating education technology leaders delivered keynotes, presented in sessions, moderated panels and were available throughout the day to chat with attendees over the dessert tables, around the lounge fireplace, and during breaks in hallways opening on to broad views of a pond, green lawns, and banks of multicolored trees.
On hand were Jeff Harrow, author of The Harrow Technology Report, whose keynote addressed the broad changes technology has effected over the past 20 years; T&L regular Kim Carter, who spearheaded a lively discussion of 21st century learning communities; and David Warlick, director of the North Carolina-based Landmark Project, who, alongside MIT's Eric Klopfer, explored technology innovations yet to come. Robert Richardson, editorial director of the Computer Security Institute, shared key stats from CSI's FBI-backed security survey; and leadership guru Peter Reilly, author and director of the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center, spoke on shifting the focus of technology leadership from "cables and chips" back to human beings (see this month's cover feature, "Leadership: Walking the Talk").
Additional highlights of the day included:
- Superintendents Herman Gaither and Tom Stapleford, along with Cleveland Municipal School District's former CIO Peter Robertson, addressing ways of "Maximizing the Educational ROI of Your Technology Program."
- Three perspectives on 1:1 computing-with Hartland Michigan teacher Mo Shorr describing the ways in which her students learn with handheld technology throughout the day; Corinne Carriero, director of instructional computing for Half Hollow Hills School District, sharing lessons learned from a long-term laptop program; and Technology director Joe Hofmeister describing why the Cincinnati Country Day School equips each of its students with a tablet PC. Says Hofmeister of the program, "It's the hardest, but best, thing we have ever done with technology. It has profound implications for the way the school does business."
- Quality assurance manager Dr. Jane Bloomquist's presentation of the Chicago Public Schools' wireless security problems and solutions. Bloomquist outlined some of the advantages of going wireless at this juncture in the evolution of technology and education. An excerpt:
Financially, wireless can be extremely cost effective because it doesn't involve extensive build-out. With 802.11i, the new wireless standard, in place, deploying wireless can ensure a return on investment because the equipment is guaranteed to be safe, secure and industry standard. 802.11i equipment certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance is appearing in retail markets now. You may need to purchase new access points and wireless network interface cards to set up a secure wireless network based on the new standard. Any wireless equipment purchased in the last year or so that was Wi-Fi certified should be compatible with the new standard, but firmware upgrades may be needed.
- Consultant and Syracuse University educator in residence Harry Tuttle's "show and tell" about how administrators can assist teachers in integrating practical assessment strategies into core curriculum classes. Tuttle's groundbreaking presentation centered around techniques for using technology to measure student progress in writing and vocabulary in a high school Language Arts course. Examples included having students peer- or self-monitor their achievement in a descriptive writing unit through a long-term report chart. The chart would include individual logs and class-wide graphs representing the volume and descriptive adjectives in timed journal writing assignments, for instance. Students could also graph their vocabulary scores over time and change strategies if they have a less than 80 percent score. Other examples included how to use data to create a rubric and spreadsheet to identify the lowest average within a benchmark essay assignment, and many more practical methods for quantifying hard-to-measure skills.
The above debrief is just sampling of the day's rich program. To access a complete list of presenters and sessions, including conference handouts, we invite you to visit www.techlearning.com/events/techforum/ny04/program.html. To learn more about upcoming Tech Forum events, including Tech Forum Chicago on April 29, 2005, visit www.techlearning.com/techforum.