Thursday, February 14, 2013

NJASA Techspo 2013

Jeff Bradbury from TeacherCast
Dr. Matthew Peterson - Keynote at Techspo 2013
On January 31st and February 1st, I attended and present the annual NJASA Techspo 2013 (#techspo2013)  in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I presented "The Connected Educator leading a Connected Generation with the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Edward Aguiles (@EdAguiles). Besides school administrators attending there were several education technology teachers and administrators in attendance. The keynote of the conference was done by  Dr. Matthew Peterson from the Mind Institute. In his presentation, he discussed his personal struggles in school having Dyslexia. He explained that the motive behind him trying to develop an environment where students would learn math has three keys. Interactivity, Informative Feedback and Intrinsic motivation. He spoke about the need to have an action one needs to own the action. He also spoke about the Hawthorne Effect. Wikipedia describes the Hawthorne Effect is that changes in participants' behavior during the course of a study may be "related only to the special social situation and social treatment they received."  The Mind Institute has developed a software that teaches math to students without the need of words. As the student continues to succeed by answering one question, the program builds upon what was previously learnt to a more advance question. Dr. Peterson's perseverance and tenacity in developing this software was amazing and he kept expanding his own personal knowledge in order to understand what students would need to understand math. 

 I then attended a presentation done on 2015 PARCC Testing - Are you Ready? The presenter asked "What drives technology in your district? Who designs your infrastructure? Which comes first the technology or the budget?" He mentioned the technology requirements that can be found on the NJ PARCC website. Not only the hardware needs but also the student technology literacy skills they would need such as 3rd graders would need to type a full page in 40 minutes while 5th graders would need to type two full pages in 60 minutes and would need to know how to log into the system. There were many question and very few answers to what to actually expect for the test coming in 2015. "We can plan to fail to fail to plan" for this inevitable online testing.  He suggested that the technology team, technicians, be available for the test and we, the attendees, should begin to introduce students to online assessments as well as install laptops in the individual classrooms so that students could begin to practice for the PARCC exams.

Maximizing Human Capital by Enhancing Teacher Capacity was presented by Teachscape and Steve Engravalle (@iSchoolLeader). They talked the new New Jersey Teacher Evaluation EE4NJ and how would the 15% of the teacher evaluation regarding associating student test scores with teacher evaluations. Teachscape Reflect, through technology, has developed how school districts can perform this process.  

Following the Edcamp rule of "two feet", I also visited a couple of other presentations by my friends, Jeff Bradbury - TeacherCastTeacherCast:  A Place for Teachers to Help Other Teachers (@Teachcast), Bill Krakower - Embedding Standard-Based Digital Resources into the Classroom (@wkrawker). To check out some of the attendees and presentations of Techspo 2013 on TeacherCast.

On Friday, I attended the keynote by David Pogue from the New York Times, technology session. His presentation was engaging and funny. David presented about several new technologies that are coming in the future. He talked about augmented reality, pocket CPU, and Web 2.0. As always I found his presentation to be exciting, informative, interesting, and with his great sense of humor, David's presentation was great. After the keynote, I attended several presentation regarding the use of mobile technology for school safety, Twitter and You, Great Apps and Sites for School Leaders, Edmodo a Free Powerful Web 2.0 School Tool, and Interstate Collaboration Through Web 2.0 Tools. These presentations were done by colleagues and friends that I have come to appreciate and admire in the field of education technology in the state of New Jersey. 

Overall the experience was one of the best I have had at Techspo over the past several years. As the field of technology continue to be innovative in the process of instruction and learning, I suspect that in the coming years for Techspo will be dynamic, creative and be constantly changing as our society continues to change in the 21st century. Kudos go out to Thomas Murray from Pa, Edward Aguiles, Bill Krakower, Samantha Morra, Diana Potts, Steve Engravalle, Erica Hartman, Jeff Bradbury, Dana Sirotiak, Elissa Malespina, and Melissa Butler.