This post is sorely overdue! It has been two weeks since the Upstate Technology Conference, but I don’t want to let what I learned slip away before capturing it here.
The keynote speaker on Day Two was David Jakes. His presentation, The Global One Room Schoolhouse: Creating Learning Communities in the Digital Age, was inspiring.
Obviously, this conference focused on technology, but Jakes insists that it takes a backseat to our curriculum. Although we are often attracted to all the bells and whistles of Web 2.0 tools, he stressed that we not use technology for technology’s sake, but use it to enhance learning. Rather than find a tool and wonder, “Wow! How can I use this in my classroom?” we should examine our curriculum and determine the best approach to achieving our instructional goals. Certainly not a new idea, but one that needs to be stressed as we plan instruction.
Jakes recommends a scaffold of four questions that educators should use to determine which technology, if any, is appropriate to instruction.
I attended several sessions today. Carlton Greene of Greer Middle School shared “Free and Open Source Software.” He focused on educational software and shared a document that can be accessed here that gives descriptions of dozens of programs. Some interesting programs he shared were Celestia (a space simulator allowing you to travel through the solar system), Stellarium (a planetarium for the classroom), Abiword (an easy to use word processor), KMPlot (a mathematical function plotter), KVerbos (helps with learning Spanish), and Jodix (a movie converter that converts most popular movie formats to iPod video).
Especially useful to me in the media center is Abiword. Many times students will bring in work from home on a flashdrive hoping to open and print it out in the media center. But alas, it was created with WordPerfect and we have been unable to help them. Abiword will write and read WordPerfect documents. Hooray!
Another interesting session was “Flip for Flip Recorders!” I have blogged about the media center’s Flip camera before and attended this session hoping to get some ideas for using our camera. Amanda Leblanc, Media Services Coordinator for Greenville County Schools, did not disappoint me. She divided us into groups and had us use the camera on a scavenger hunt. You can find directions for the scavenger hunt on this page.
Elizabeth Kohut of Richland County School District 1 presented “Podcasting with GCast.” She demonstrated how easy it was to create and post a podcast using just your cell phone. You can then embed a player on your site so that you visitors can listen to the podcast.
The final session I attended was “IS Your Life Chaotic? Simplify it with Technology!” Cathy Arnold, Technology Facilitator for Greenville County Schools, shared several tools to help organize your life. I was already familiar with the tools she presented but her explanation and demonstration of Jott inspired me to try it once again (I had been using Reqall to send notes to myself). Jott is now on my speed dial! I have used it to send notes to myself and have added events to my Google calendar with just a phone call to Jott! Cathy converted me, I helped my husband set up his account, and I WILL be sharing this with my teachers when school begins.
Kudos to the Greenville County School District and the staff that finely crafted this awesome professional development! Those who attended came away with multitudes of ideas to try in their schools.