EdTech at Proctor: A Changing Educational Landscape

Posted by Adam Jones


Proctor's Technology Integration Specialist, Adam Jones, shares the following excerpts from his blog on EdTech at Proctor after a recent professional development opportunity:

My experience with educational conferences – particularly technology conferences – is it’s like drinking from a firehose.  Tons and tons of information.  You want to write it all down because you don’t want to forget it.  Resources are so valuable!  Retweet this.  Favorite that.  Follow this person.  It goes on and on.  And while it is overwhelming — it isn’t exhausting.  Quite the contrary, in fact, the rate and frequency of information is invigorating. I left the conference with a few main takeaways, but the one that applies most directly to our work as educators at Proctor is: The future of education is dynamic, differentiated and totally open-ended.  

Proctor Academy EdTech

While my time at Miami Device was affirming and inspirational, it completely underscored how rapidly education is evolving and redefining itself.  Or said another way, the potential for growth in HOW we teach has never been more open for development.  The traditional model isn’t the only way anymore.  Hasn’t been for awhile.  Increasingly that approach to education is stagnant and underserves our students where their ultimate assignment is – as Kevin Honeycutt said – “to change the world.”  Mobile devices certainly play a role, but that is really just the beginning.  In many ways the rapid infusion of technology in education has shaken the tree and got us all wondering (again), “what are the best ways kids learn….?”

Here are some quick synopses of the different workshops from Miami Device: 

Rebranding digital citizenship:

Led by Tanya Avrith (@tanyaavrith).  Tanya explored the idea that digital citizenship – if taught effectively – has to be more than just a list of do’s and don’ts for our students.  She said repeatedly that we can’t just “vaccinate our students” with an hour-long program (or series of outside speakers) and assume they are going to be responsible digital citizens.  As educators, we need to model.  We need to be online ourselves (Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, etc.) so we understand what the important questions are to explore with our students.  It needs to a part of every classes’ daily curriculum – taught from within – when opportunities arise.  One of the ideas that really caught my attention during Tanya’s presentation was when she showed a group of social media icons (12 or so) and said, “If you don’t recognize what these symbols represent…you are becoming illiterate.”

Student Digital Portfolios:

Led by Holly Clark (@HollyClarkEdu).  Holly spent the hour talking about digital portfolios — or as she prefers to call them, Visible Thinking Portfolios.  I was really drawn into the presentation when she said, “Digital portfolios have the power to be the antidote to modern standardized testing — if — we can demonstrate how they are a better representation of learning than multiple choice tests.”  Holly talked about how Google is the default digital portfolio for everyone that is online.  Google is storing everything….go google yourself and see!  Therefore, our jobs as educators is to teach students how to purposively populate their digital presence….otherwise they don’t have control over their digital footprint.  Holly’s mantra for digital portfolios was: Collect, Reflect, Publish.  We looked at a variety of tools and examples for each of these steps in the process.  At the end she said (citing @austinkleon work), “If your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist…”

Proctor Academy EdTech

Providing Effective PD Through Peer Coaching:

Led by Dave Guymon (@daveguymon).  I really appreciated Dave’s teaching style during this workshop because he effectively engaged the participants.  As a result, people were listening, asking questions and helping to provide examples from their own schools.  One of the quotes that Dave started with was, “People don’t resist change, they resist being changed.”  He implored us (a room full of tech integrators) when working with our colleagues to really focus on being with them.  Listen.  Validate.  It’s NOT about saying, “This is how you can be as good as me….”  It’s really about building a “grassroots teacher culture” that values collaboration, modeling, observation, inquiry and reflection.  This video sums it up, in many ways.

Bring a new dimension to learning with Augmented Reality:

Led by Brad Waid (@techbradwaid).  I have heard a lot about augmented reality in education over the last couple years, but I haven’t spent the time to deepen my understanding because it always looked a little gimmicky.  What I realized today during Brad’s session was how far the field has come AND how many different tools are out there for utilizing augmented reality.  To name a few: Anatomy 4D, Spacecraft 3D, AR Flashcards, Elements 4D, Shape Quest, Fetch! Lunch Rush, Fairytale 4D, 4D Studio.  I am definitely going to dig deeper!  AR has the potential to be a game changer in education because the “hook” is so powerful and novel.  Dave and his AR teacher partner, Drew Minock (@TechMinock) also maintain a fantastic blog resource over at twoguysandsomeipads.com.  During the session, Brad shared the evolution of the medium by sharing stories of his journey over the last couple years.  He finished up with some demos!

Proctor Academy EdTech

Instant Professional Development (PD) with iTunes U:

Led by Lisa Johnson (@TechChef4u).  Lisa relayed a wealth of knowledge on using iTunes in Education.  One of the things I most appreciated about Lisa’s presentation was her willingness toshare everything online.  Wow!  The connected educator world is a very supportive, welcoming and pay-it-forward type community.  As Lisa said, “no need to re-invent the wheel or unnecessarily horde useful materials.  Share it!”  She walked through the basics of building a course on iTunes U, outlined best practices and said, “Just open it up and get started.  You are going to learn by doing!”  She also left us with a link to her work at Eanes Independent School District (Texas), and highlighted a handful of useful iTunes U courses on PD fundamentals!

Create multimedia eBooks in the iPad Classroom: 

Led by Wes Fryer (@wfryer).  With over 30k followers on Twitter, Dr. Fryer is one of the key thought leaders in EdTech.  Using this presentation as the basis for our session, Dr. Fryer demonstrated the basics of eBook creation (Book Creator and Creative Book Builder), showed examples and answered participant-specific questions.  Dr. Fryer also talked about the importance of students demonstrating their understanding with different forms of media, and readily shared this resource as a way to think about and build competency. Even though my students have been building eBooks for the last couple years, I still felt like I walked away from the session having learned something new and novel.  For instance, Dr. Fryer introduced the print-on-demand service, Lulu – which I started dreaming about ways to use in the future!


Led by Lisa Johnson (@TechChef4u).  I was so impressed with Lisa’s wealth of knowledge, thoroughness and willingness to openly share during her earlier presentation on iTunes U, I was pumped to spend another hour learning from her about SAMR.  She started off the presentation – once again – sharing her considerable resources!  Lisa has done a tremendous amount of work with SAMR – not just in her own classroom, but also teaching other educators how to make their classrooms more student-centric and project-based.  She said, “It not about evaluating teachers with this model, but rather deploying it as a structure to have an ongoing conversation about pedagogy.”  The resources linked above are broken into “Fancy,” “Cheeky,” and “Sassy”  categories – all of which link to teaching materials, images, videos, lesson plans, etc.  It is hard to overstate how valuable a maven Lisa truly is in EdTech.  Find her on social media and you’ll find a deep rabbit hole of carefully curated content.

Building Blocks for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Success:

Led by Susan Bearden (@s_bearden).  This was the smallest (4 people) session that I attended at Miami Device.  And while at first it was a little intimidating to have Susan’s direct attention focused on our school-specific challenges, it quickly settled into a phenomenally useful time to share and problem solve.  A career educator – and moderator of the the well known #edtechchat – Susan shifted the focus of the presentation from a “sit and get” to a one-on-one conversation focused on the question, “What can I share that will assist you the minute you get back?”  She encouraged all of the participants in the session to “go back” to the school’s mission statement as a place to source the “why” for technology in education.  How can technology support the overarching direction/reason for the school’s existence?  Susan mentioned that the keys to a successful BYOD program are faculty buy-on, professional development, and peer coaching.  She said that, “once the lightbulb turns on (how to use technology to increase learning) for teachers, it rarely (if ever) turns off and reverses course!”  Well, that’s promising!

Closing Keynote:

Led by Tony Vincent (@tonyvincent).  Similar to Kevin Honeycutt, Wes Fryer, Lisa Johnson and Susan Beardon – Tony Vincent is another one of the rockstars of EdTech.  People clambered to squeeze into his full sessions on Thursday and Friday – and if they couldn’t get in, they were sure to take selfies with him and post on Twitter!  Passing people in the halls I’d hear, “Oh look…there’s Tony….”  As such, his closing Keynote – focused on student ownership – was highly anticipated and well received.  I was particularly impressed with his ease, humor and willingness to play and share.  One of the main takeaways from the presentation was his discussion of the IKEA effect and it’s implication for student engagement and motivation.  Namely, that people (students) place a disproportionately high value on something they create.  People fall in love with the things they labor over.  In fact, people (students) are five times more committed to ideas/projects/plans that are their own!  So…find ways to give them ownership over their own learning!


It is exciting, for sure.  But, it’s not about the tool.  It’s about TEACHING in ways that transform student understanding and lights them up!  Turns compliance into curiosity, and requirement into ownership.  It is a dynamic time to be an educator.  Join the conversation and contribute. Read additional thoughts on my blog HERE!  

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