Friday, February 19, 2016

#OETC16: A Review


If I had to summarize the 2016 Ohio Ed Tech Convention in one word, that would be the word. It's not like every speaker and presenter said "innovation" or even thought about it as they created their sessions. But, innovation was always lurking under the surface of everything that happened.

It all started for me before I ever left my house in Kentucky.  I was introduced to Parking Panda, a site that allows you to prepay for parking, giving you a guaranteed space when you arrive on the scene.  This was huge to me after being forced to park at a meter for the last day of the conference last year.  ("I'll be at your session next hour, as soon as I go feed the meter!" Yup! That made me look cool at a nerd convention.)

Innovation came out loud and clear as I listened to Jaime Chanter talk about her future club and how she helps four different schools learn about coding, robotics, and maker spaces in before school clubs in Lakewood School District.  Innovation was the key element to  Mrs. Thoma and Mrs. Frederick talk about using Genius Hour and coding in their 4th/5th combined class every Wednesday.

It was Jaime Casap telling educators to find ways to innovate how to educate so (school) learning becomes relevant for this generation of learners.  It was Hadi Partovi explaining how he created in an attempt to bring computer science to every school in America and raise the percentage of women and minorities involved in computer sciences.

Innovation was the theme of a group of teachers from Forest Hills School District that have incorporated blended learning in their high school instruction.  Each one found different ways to blend their learning, but they all have worked hard to find what works for them and their classes.

Innovation was woven through all the sessions, even those that were not so inspiring.  After all, every tech tool discussed either didn't exist five years ago, or have been significantly updated in those five years.

I was struck by a pair of pictures that Jaime Casap put on the screen. On one side was a class of students sitting in rows, using iPads.  On the other side was a black and white picture of a class sitting in rows listening to the teacher lecture.  He pointed out that there isn't much difference between the two pictures.  And, he's right.

What if I came into your room at a random time and took a picture at a random moment?  Would that picture look any different than a picture taken 100 years ago?  Sure, your kids may have iPads in their hands, but do those iPads radically change how instruction happens? Or, does the technology help you teach in all new ways?

I walked away from OETC this year with a bit less knowledge than I would have liked but a whole lot more drive.  Seeing as the 21st century is old enough for a driver's license in Ohio, I think it's time my school implements the 4Cs of 21st century learning.  I'm so happy that I attended the convention with a colleague who feels like I do.  We need to make a concerted to help our colleagues use technology in new ways in our school.

I think I have renewed Innovation Project for myself.

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