There was also a lot of focus on MLDs – Mobile Learning Devices. AKA cell phones, iPads, tablets, etc. It’s becoming more and more clear that as our students carry smart phones and other devices, schools cam efficiently take advantage of this and incorporate them into teaching. Why wouldn’t we allow students to use the small, handheld devices that can connect them to just about all of the information in the world and which they are already carrying in their pockets – at no cost to districts! We should be allowing, enabling and encouraging this use throughout our schools, especially the high school.
I attended sessions on:
- Professional Development: What is it and what should it be?
- Mobile Learning
- "What If" – what kind of technology do teachers want?
- Building a Culture of Literacy – how do we ensure books and literature are not lost in the push for technology
I enjoyed learning about Edmodo, which is basically "Facebook for schools." It's a platform that allows a teacher and students to collaborate, share work, give feedback, plan, get assignments, take quizes, participate in polls, etc., using an interface that looks a lot like Facebook and works the same way, so it's intuitive and kids are engaged right away. It's a completely closed and secure system so everything is private and...it's free!
Probably the best part of the day was the keynote address by Diana Laufenberg of Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. Diana focused on innovation in schools and described how everything her school does – every single lesson, every single project – incorporates the school’s core values: inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection. As Diana said, and as is stated on their website, “AT SLA, leaning is not just something that happens from 8:30am to 3:00pm, but a continuous process that expans beyond the four walls of the classroom into every facet of our lives.”
As you may have predicted by now, that kind of talk is getting me energized again to focus on technology and innovation in our Ridgewood schools. I tried, unsuccessfully, to get traction on this subject during the three years I was on the Board of Ed. I’m not giving up. As a “regular” parent now, I am pursuing the subject again, and will be bringing some ideas to the Board in the next few weeks. I’ll keep you posted!