Inspiration for Leaders

Enjoy this news and reflection blog brought to you from the LHRIC Technology Leadership Institute!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Local Educators Encouraged to Think Big and Embrace the Future

In a world that is being constantly changed by technology, the April 8Tech Expo, sponsored by the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center, offered some sound advice for local educators who are eager to enhance teaching and learning in their schools.

LHRIC Executive Director Dennis Lauro, center,
pictured with Dr. Pam Moran and Ira Socol. 
The annual event, which was held at the Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff Manor, included an array of presentations from students and teachers in various local school districts where the latest cutting-edge technology is being used.

Ardsley, Bronxville, Croton Harmon, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Katonah Lewisboro, Ossining, Pelham, Scarsdale and Yorktown were among the districts represented at the Expo, which attracted close to 400 people.

Several vendors also participated, including Annese, Aspire Technology Partners, Cisco, Dell, Edgenuity, Doctrina, Haiku, Imagine Learning, Pearson Education, Renaissance Learning, Tynker and more.

Creating Moonshot Thinkers
Molly Schroeder speaks at Tech Expo.
Global Digital Age Learning Specialist Molly Schroeder of the EdTechTeam suggested that students could be “moonshot thinkers” if the education environment allowed them to be more creative. That vision was part of Schroeder’s keynote presentation titled, “Falling in Love with the Future.”

During her 45-minute talk, Ms. Schroeder said it is an “epic time” for creativity in the classroom.

“There is so much potential in the students who are sitting in classrooms right now,” she said.

To participate in the kind of moonshot thinking that Ms. Schroeder espouses, she said teachers need to be risk takers, be creative, have passion for their subject, accept challenges and not be afraid to fail.

This moonshot thinking, which is a regular feature of the Google X initiative, an experimental lab that seeks to solve the world’s next big problems, is not dependent on state assessments but on teachers getting students to answer questions without using Google as an aid.

Students should be expected to figure out the answers by thinking outside of the box and to work “in beta,” explained Ms. Schroeder.

“Learning is no longer multiple choice questions,” she said. “We want students to surprise us.”

Some of the Google products that facilitate creative learning include Google Cardboard, a virtual reality platform built by Google that is increasingly being used by teachers to take students on virtual reality tours of the world’s many interesting places. Google Cardboard is primarily used with the app Google Expeditions.

Transforming Schools
Continuing on the same theme, Superintendent Pam Moran, head of Virginia’s Albemarie County Public Schools, and Ira Socol, that district’s design project manager and director of educational technology and innovation, talked about the successful implementation of contemporary technologies into their schools.

Dr. Pam Moran and Ira Socol, both from the Albemarie
County Public Schools, share the stage at Tech Expo.
Comprised of 26 schools, the district’s students come from a myriad of backgrounds, including middle-class suburbs, agricultural communities and an urban area close to the city of Charlottesville, where approximately 70 different languages are spoken.

Knowing that 65 percent of the district’s current kindergartners will end up in jobs that currently do not exist, Dr. Moran said the district’s job is to change the model of education from one that is not currently set up for kids to succeed to a hub of creativity.

Using specific students as examples, both speakers told the audience how even the most disinterested of them can find success.

The school district’s technology initiatives, which includes a network of CTE/STEM mechatronics labs, are centered around seven pathways that ensure lifelong learning for every child.

They include choice and comfort, which gives students real learning space choices; instructional tolerance, which produces active and engaged learners in a learning community; universal design for learning, which allows for differentiated learning environments; a maker-infused curriculum; project/problem, passion-based learning; interactive technologies and the appropriate connectivity to make it all happen.   

To the audience, Dr. Moran said, “Change something in your school, in your class and in your district that tomorrow represents engaged students and leveraged resources.”

“One of the things you will find that is you will have kids who are engaged and who want to come to school. That’s what we want for our kids and that’s my vision for all of you.”

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