Friday, November 14th, 2008...1:12 pm

The South Carolina EdTech Conference

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Diane Ross
The Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning

When you think of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, thoughts of childhood summer vacations and shag dancing are supposed to come to mind.  But this year, the theme of the SC ED TECH CONFERENCE was “Rock On.”  We saw the likes of Elvis and Laurie Partridge walking the aisles of the conference floor, but the talk was not about singing or dancing, it was all about raising student achievement.

This was our first year as exhibitors and as presenters at this conference. Theresa Bell, a QTL Certified Instructor and the Director of Partnership Development, talked with 52 educators about how to engage students in their own learning. In fact, she called the presentation, Surefire Ways to Improve Student Performance.

Theresa says the SUREFIRE way is the appropriate use of instructional technology. But as she stresses, it is always in the context of your content, it is always used in conjunction with research-based instructional strategies and teachers really need to look at what interests students most.

Our students seem to live in a different world than we did and do now. Students seem to be born with an innate sense of how to text without looking at the keypad of their cell phone, or how to keep up with TWITTER (who actually has the time to check in as often as most kids?).  On top of that, today’s students really don’t have the need to memorize innate facts when they are available 24 hours a day at their fingertips.

Remember the days of making a trip to the library to research works of Shakespeare? Nowadays, our kids hit the Internet for that kind of information. It seems they don’t need us (educators) anymore as the center of the universe for factual information. But what they do need is for educators to teach them what to do with that information.

That’s exactly what Theresa Bell talked about in her presentation. How to use 21st Century Tools for 21st Century Learning Skills. As she walked teachers through how to use WIKIs and online collaborative tools, light bulbs seemed to be coming on over the heads of the educators. Many brought their own laptops and followed along and hung on her every word so they could take this kind of information back to their own classrooms. Even after the presentation was over, many stayed and asked questions about how to get your tech person to allow such tools in the classroom.

Theresa’s response: Who should be responsible for making instructional decisions; the tech person for the district or the instructional leadership? Heads shook, smiles began and 52 people walked away from Theresa’s presentation armed with a new way to get students engaged in their learning at new levels. I only wish I could be in all those classrooms to see the smiling faces of their students as well.

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