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A group of Dock faculty, staff, and administrators from both campuses attended the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in Philadelphia June 22-26. ISTE is a passionate community of global educators who believe in the power of technology to transform teaching and learning, accelerate innovation and solve tough problems in education. ISTE attendees from Dock included (standing, l to r) EC-Grade 8 Principal Mrs. Bronwyn Histand, EC-Grade 8 Librarian Mrs. Missy Camilleri, Director of Technology Mr. Darwin Zehr, 4th Grade Teacher Mrs. Kipp Glass, 1st grade teacher Mrs. Trish Landis, Grades 9-12 math teacher Mr. Marcelo Mast, Assistant Director of Technology Mr. Jason Sprunger; (kneeling l to r) Grades 9-12 Principal Mr. Martin Wiens and middle school teacher Mr. Nathaniel Freed. Not pictured (because she was taking the photo): Mrs. Sharon Fransen, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction.
Teachers reflected on their ISTE experience and said it is clear that many teachers are "ditching" textbooks in favor of using online resources for student learning. "This means not being tied to a textbook chapter by chapter, but using online projects and resources to target the required content," said Marcelo Mast. Another big takeaway from the conference for him is the emergence of artificial intelligence as the new frontier in technology education. "One seminar focused on ways to use Alexa-type devices in the classroom, both as a tool to retrieve content as well as a means for students to present their findings," he said.
Jason Sprunger was also interested in an area of the show floor that featured iPads with sample classroom material using augmented and virtual reality.
"This was my first time at ISTE, and it was a whirlwind of new technology—unique displays and screens, 3D Printers, robotics of all kinds, as well all sorts of software for students, teachers and administrators," he said. "Everything here was in the service of improving how kids learn, improving engagement, and fostering an environment of creativity and innovation.
Mast said he was impressed by the number of apps and programs available for teachers to generate classroom learning experiences, and for students to use to demonstrate what they have learned. For example, he saw video programs that create professional-looking short videos based on the topic and basic information a teacher enters. He also was impressed with programs that create animated GIFs that can be incorporated into presentations; a program that students can use to easily create a beat and music; programs to create virtual reality or augmented reality worlds; and many more. Most of these are free, he added. "It is amazing what students (and teachers) can create!" he said.
Sprunger said the trick is to successfully integrate these technologies and programs into the learning experience. "Technology isn't magical on its own—effective integration is key," he said. "If educators can successfully integrate technology into their classrooms, it can be more than just novelty; it can make us more efficient, expressive, and engaging. At the end of the day, ISTE gave me so many exciting ideas for ways in which technology can boost our learning and make what's good into something that's great."