To put it mildly, 2020 has been a year of change, casting aside what was, with what has to be, and the academic conference experience has followed suit. What was supposed to be an in-person presentation in Anaheim, CA earlier this year evolved into a virtual session during ISTE 20 Live. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) transitioned their annual conference event to a fully online digital platform, allowing presenters and attendees from all over the world to convene, share, and learn. Dr. Sean Leahy and I took part as we presented our session Introducing Future Educators to Emerging Technologies through Inquiry.
This was a chance for us to discuss the first module in our redesigned course EDT 180 Technology Literacy: Problem-solving using Digital Applications. The course focus is learning with technology, and MLFTC students experience the content through a framework based on John Dewey’s four natural learning impulses: inquiry, communication, construction, and expression. Students complete four modules that correspond with the impulses. During the inquiry module, students choose a topic or skill to learn and investigate how they might learn using artificial intelligence (AI), extended reality (XR), and Internet of Things (IoT). Components of the process call for students to apply the Principled Innovation framework as they consider the unintended consequences of emerging technologies as well as misuse of technologies. A full description of the course experience is available in this recently-published article Embracing failure in a first-year technology course.
Dr. Leahy and I shared the research and rationale for the course and led our participants through each part of the process of the inquiry module. Having each taught this version of the course multiple times, we had much to contribute about our experiences, student feedback, challenges, and successes.
We provided participants with a digital “toolkit” that included assignment documents, a matrix of content resources, and examples of student projects. Our aim is to give other educators ideas and resources they might reuse or remix to engage their learners in similar ways. Even though COVID-19 shifted the dates and format, presenting virtually about emerging technologies seemed appropriate during an educational technology conference. Being able to discuss the course and give participants a folder of digital assets through the virtual platform was rewarding.
For the second year in a row, I had the privilege of presenting at the annual fall leadership conference for Educators Rising community members. The 2020 Virtual Fall Leadership Experience was a full day of opportunities aimed at high school students planning to pursue careers in education.
My two sessions focused on technology in education, which is at the height of relevance in our current learning environments. I was especially excited to share an informative and interactive session with students who are experiencing a different type of learning than they are used to while they are considering future careers as teachers. As I developed Level Up Your Virtual Classroom, I wanted to involve the participants as much as possible to model how engaging virtual instruction can be. Using Zoom, Pear Deck, Google Slides, gifs, and an appropriate amount of teenage slang, I took advantage of the 45 minutes I had with these future teachers to introduce them to thoughtful and deliberate learning experiences that are effective in the virtual classroom just as much as in the brick and mortar spaces most have been accustomed to. My vision was to share my excitement connected to advantages that digital technologies provide for educators and students. Sure, the learning experiences are different, but that does not mean they have to be inferior to traditional instruction.
I was sure to include the concerns about accessibility and equity though. Different conditions have created new challenges in ensuring all students have access to the learning conditions, resources, and opportunities. We have to work to address those concerns and engage all learners.
After having asked students about their virtual learning experiences, their definitions of school, and what they see for the future of school and learning, I wrapped with one final question. I asked them what type of teacher they want to be. Responses were amazingly thoughtful and revealing, especially considering what we are all experiencing right now. All participants mentioned some form of compassion and care. Yes, these students want to be content experts and to teach well. Yes, they want to use technology when appropriate. More importantly, though, they hope to show their future students they matter. These educators of the future already recognize the essence of teaching. Virtual, in-person, or through digital methods not even created yet, these students will become educators ready to level up learning.
Over 100 educators and future educators participated in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Early Childhood Conference on Saturday, February 8. Representatives from the IgnitED Labs had the opportunity to connect with educators and share how various emerging technologies align with early childhood teaching objectives.
Lab locations in Tempe, Poly, and West are places for educators and future educators to explore technologies suited for diverse learning goals. The Merge Cube is one example. Using a device such as a smartphone or tablet and the foam Merge Cube, a student can view and interact with an augmented reality representation of anatomy, space, the ocean, artifacts, and other items. Perfect for visual learners, this technology includes lessons and experiences for students in PK-12 classrooms.
Educational Technology Champions (ETCs) collaborate with visitors to learn how these devices can engage students and enhance learning and were eager to showcase the possibilities at Saturday’s event. ETCs Ashley Goernitz and Sabrina Cervantes explained the benefits of these devices and answered visitors’ questions about relevance and accessibility. The Sphero Specdrums kit is perfect for early childhood students learning colors, sounds, and shapes.
Those who visited with the ETCs and tested the equipment learned many of these technologies are perfect for STEAM and project-based learning activities. They also discovered the potential for reaching students of all levels as these technologies make experiences more inclusive for various learners.
Sharing a mobile version of the labs’ offerings is another method for introducing all educators to various emerging technologies aimed at expanding student learning and preparing them for tomorrow’s classrooms.
Once again the IgnitED Labs crew took some lab experiences outdoors for fun and learning during the annual Homecoming event. ASU community members had opportunities to discover how emerging technologies are influencing education.
Virtual reality (VR) was one highlight, as some people used it for the first time. The focus was more on entertainment during the block party; however, VR is becoming part of students’ educational experiences. The equipment offers immersive learning in many subject areas such as history, language arts, and science.
Plenty of children stopped to learn how to drive Sphero
robots with iPads
. These robots provide students with scaffolding coding experiences.
Another popular attraction for kids was the Nintendo Labo
area. Using a gaming console and cardboard, students learn problem-solving and critical-thinking skills through play. This STEM activity is a great way to introduce young students to engineering, design, and programming.
Microsoft was also on hand to showcase how Minecraft for Education
helps students develop coding, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills.
Technological learning activities like these are all available in the IgnitED Labs with locations at Polytechnic, West, and Tempe campuses.