Education leaders gathered at the Eaglewood Conference Center Resort in Itasca, Illinois for an action-packed day of professional development sessions and networking at Technology & Learning's Tech Forum. Among the speakers at the event were Dr. Chris Dede, professor of learning technologies at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, whose keynote explored "neomillennial" learning environments; T&L regular Kim Carter, who offered practical ways technology leaders can facilitate change in their organizations; and Robert Runcie, CIO of Chicago Public Schools, who spoke about maximizing the value of technology investments.
The following five Web sites were showcased in a panel session on "Technologies for Tomorrow's Schools," which spotlighted a number of cutting-edge uses of technology that have the potential for widespread acceptance in schools of the future.
Visit this site, established by Chris Dede and others at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, to access descriptions, photos, and video demonstrations of MUVEES (multi-user virtual environment experiential simulators), including the River City simulation that has student avatars exploring a virtual community typical of 19th-century America.
MIT AR Simulations
This MIT site showcases the university's "Augmented Reality" simulations, including Environmental Detectives, shown during the Tech Forum keynote. In the simulation, students equipped with wireless handhelds and GPS devices traverse a real campus, using virtual tools to investigate a mysterious epidemic.
My World GIS
Tech Forum presenter Matthew Brown of Inquirium demonstrated this tool which uses GIS (Global Information System) technology to support inquiry-based learning and help users visualize information.
Speaker David Warlick (www.landmark-project.com) encouraged educators to use blogs for their own professional growth and to consider their use in the classroom as well. Blogger is a tool that helps you set up a free blog.
If you're just getting going with blogging, Warlick suggests that you establish an account with this "aggregator" that helps you keep track of updates to your favorite blogs. To learn how to use Bloglines, see "The ABCs of RSS" at www.techlearning.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=163100414.
Digital Storytelling Tips
The following suggestions come from instructional technology coordinator David Jakes and visual literacy facilitator Joe Brennan, who conducted a Tech Forum workshop on "Digital Storytelling and 21st-Century Learning."
1. Begin with staff development. Create a program where participants build their own story. Teachers and support staff must be active participants in the construction of digital stories, and they must have the capability to answer software-related questions.
2. Start with a small pilot program. The process of digital storytelling is support-intensive and systems-intensive-you'll need a great deal of student support and a stable technology infrastructure. Test these by running several small projects first and get the "bugs" worked out. Test, test, and test again all hardware, software, and network technology.
3. Build administrative support. Be ready to defend the process-what do students really learn? Our current reality includes high-stakes testing and school curriculum packed with content.
4. Be sure to carefully consider all copyright issues. Use digital storytelling as a "teachable" moment to address copyright and fair use.
For more tips, along with handouts from a range of Tech Forum presentations, visit www.techlearning.com/events/techforum/chi05/program.html.
For details on upcoming conferences visit www.techlearning.com/techforum.