Another school year down and another amazing visit to InnEdCO 2018 in Keystone, CO! It's been so great to have such an amazing conference local to Colorado when ISTE only comes to Denver once every 5 years. After 4 days of learning, connecting, and growing I want to highlight several things I took away from this incredible experience.
Everyone needs to be at the table when it comes to innovation - Several of the sessions I attended discussed how we can innovate in our teaching, student learning, curriculum, and professional development. There are so many great tools and resources to help us become innovative but one of the most important themes I took away is who you have at the table in order to accomplish this innovation. Without the support and shared vision of administrators, an educator may not feel comfortable or supported in taking the risks and making the changes necessary to help students become innovative.
Building relationships is crucial - Edtech Coaches, Technology Integrators, Digital Coaches, etc.. are becoming more and more common in school districts across Colorado. Many sessions focused on how these positions can be successful in helping support teachers and students in using technology to accomplish learning goals. With these roles being often viewed as 'one more thing' for a teacher it has become important to show value to teachers so they feel like using coaches or integrators as a resource will greatly help them and be an asset. Two of the sessions centered around the DPS MyTech program which looks to successfully implement 1:1 devices in 14 schools and that included putting Digital Coaches in place to help support teachers and students.
All the groups and individuals I listened to from DPS, St. Vrain, Boulder Valley and others made a point to emphasis how important it was to establish relationships with their teachers and administrators to create meaningful connections. Once these relationships were established it then became possible to help teachers integrate technology to dynamically accomplish learning goals.
Design Thinking, Inquiry Learning, & Project/Problem based Learning are still the goal - These aren't new ideas and over the past few years the ways to implement them has been all over the map (and I don't think that's a bad thing). Many sessions used the design thinking framework to help the audience work through concepts and rethink how they are addressing student learning, teacher professional development, and technology implementation. I really like this process and find it so useful in designing dynamic experiences and coming up with great ideas. It is exciting to see it become somewhat of a standard for working through a process to utilize the best thinking of all the people in the room.
Can you really create an innovative and dynamic lessons if you aren't incorporating inquiry or project-based learning? Students are no longer engaged with old school drill and kill pedagogy. If we aren't letting our students identify problems, ask questions, and come up with solutions then we aren't preparing them for the next level in their education and beyond. Thankfully with the help of edtech there are a ton of ways to implement these strategies.
How do we teach Digital Citizenship and Digital Skills to our students?- We can't expect to inject all of this educational technology in our teaching and not help prepare students to be thoughtful and purposeful with its use. There are several programs out there to try and help a educator pass on these skills to students, but Google has recently jumped in the game with their Be Internet Awesome digital citizenship program and Applied Digital Skills program for utilizing GSuite. Both of these programs are filled with resources that can be modified or plug and play to get a teacher going with their class. Check them out if you haven't already!
Google now has a digital citizenship & safety curriculum (3-5th grade) that’s free online and doesn’t require a sign-in https://beinternetawesome.withgoogle.com/en
Applied Digital Skills curriculum provided by Google to help teachers teach applicable digital skills to students using GSuite. Resources are available online and can be modified for differentiation. https://applieddigitalskills.withgoogle.com/
-Does require Google account to track progress and access materials.
So there you have my big take-a-ways from this year's InnEdCO conference in Keystone, CO. If you've never been make sure to plan on attending this summer and connecting with a ton of amazing educators who all are looking to utilizing edtech and innovative thinking to improve how we educate in Colorado. Please add any of your highlights in the comments section if you did attend.
Director of Technology for Traverse City Area Public Schools. Level 2 Google Certified Educator. Former Tech Integration Specialist and 4th grade teacher at Aspen School District and Spartan for life! Go Green!