On August 17, more than 2,000 educators attended the #NYCSchoolsTech Summit (opens in a new tab)– half of whom attended in person! They learned about the latest technology in education and had the chance to connect with colleagues.
It was the first time in three years that the summit was held in person and the first time that the event was offered as a hybrid opportunity. Attendees attended a series of sessions and connected with vendors both in workshops and at their tables.
Presenters and facilitators offered innovative ideas for integrating technology into schools. Here are some ideas, strategies and practices that they believe can shape the future of teaching and learning:
1. Provide students with access to curated digital collections
We must harness the power of technology to enable students, staff and families to access books and other resources where our students can see themselves and their experiences. School librarians are essential in providing access to curated digital collections of culturally relevant eBooks, audiobooks, and content to meet the needs of all learners and readers. An example of this work can be seen in the City-wide digital library on Sora. (opens in a new tab)
2. Intentionally use technology to improve your work
Technology is embedded in our lives. It is therefore imperative that schools and districts think critically about the technology they use. Is it accessible? Is student data and information private and secure? Is technology improving student learning or is it just the latest trend? This also means that, like the The SAMR model of technology integration teaches (opens in a new tab) For us, technology is used in a way that augments, changes or redefines what we do with students, staff and families. For example, do not scan spreadsheets. Instead, do interactive and collaborative digital activities to help students learn.
3. School and district staff are responsible for integrating technology into the school experience
Technology integration is no longer something done by one or two teachers in a building. It is now up to everyone to know how to use technology to teach, learn, lead, communicate and connect effectively. The Empire State Information Literacy Continuum (opens in a new tab) prepares each of our students to develop the skills and agency necessary to be both critical consumers and creators of information while navigating and succeeding in their academic and personal lives. These skills are taught in every content area and are an integral part of learning in every classroom and grade level.
4. Provide staff with on-demand learning opportunities
As the success of the summit proves! Courses that were once only delivered in person or live online should also be available on demand. On-demand learning is now more available and used by staff. Schools and districts can focus on learning opportunities available anytime, anywhere. At the summit, presenters shared that staff believe that on-demand PP is the easiest way to incorporate learning into their lives. They also shared the importance of receiving continuing education credits for the courses they take.
5. Use best practices for hybrid opportunities
Hybrid structures are part of the way we work today. Using best practices for facilitating (opens in a new tab) for both in-person and virtual attendees ensures greater success for both presenters and learners. And it saves us all from having to reinvent the wheel. This often means we need to provide additional staff to facilitate the virtual side of a session to ensure all voices are heard and valued, by raising virtual voices and encouraging in-person participants to use microphones so that their audio is shared with the virtual audience.
As we spend more time interacting with technology, we need to be intentional about when it makes sense for staff and students to move in and out. Provide opportunities to move, laugh, observe and connect with nature, to ground ourselves in the worlds around us. Incorporate art and natural science into your English lesson journaling assignments. Teach higher math problems using physical manipulatives. Rearrange classroom seating to provide opportunities for two-to-one or small-group conversations. Begin your lesson with a mindfulness activity that helps students center themselves, practice breathing exercises before and after stressful assessments, and check in with students both emotionally and academically.
7. Make all content digitally accessible
We must always provide digital content that is accessible to all students, staff and families, including those with disabilities and who speak languages other than English. Provide and promote digital accessibility training to all staff members so everyone knows how to create accessible content, from the office of the superintendent to the school administrator who makes and distributes decorative monthly calendars.
8. Level the playing field for all with assistive technology
Assistive technology helps level the playing field for all students, including those with disabilities who speak languages other than English. It provides a way for students to access their curriculum, communicate, and connect. Providing devices to all students along with education plans and assistive technology devices tailored to their needs supports student success.
9. Learn, use and integrate accessibility features
Technology alone is not automatically accessible, so what makes it so? Free built-in accessibility features give everyone access to suite learning tools on platforms like Microsoft, Google, and Apple. Learn, play, exploit and integrate these features into your classroom! You may be able to help a student (including ELL students), friend, family member, or complete stranger benefit!
10. Remember that we are all connected to the world
In his speech at the summit, Roya Mahboub (opens in a new tab), internationally known for her efforts to educate and empower Afghan girls, reminded us that our work goes beyond the walls of the classroom or school. We are globally connected and much of our work with students and staff is to show the power that can be harnessed when we think on this scale.