Thursday, June 19, 2014

eGrow: Cultivating Digital Learning

Clinton Central's eGrow conference brought a farming vibe to the Summer of eLearning, with sessions designed to plant innovative ideas and cultivate new skills for educators. Complete with bandanas for participants and tractors at the front door, organizers nurtured their theme to create a fertile environment for learning.

Their opening message was delivered by Yancy Unger (@YancyUnger), who highlighted the ways that content has evolved through history. With the the current availability of information and experts, modern learners more closely resemble John Dewey's assertion that education is social.

Unger shared examples of students being able to engage with videos and online communities to find out whatever they wanted to learn. In light of this, Unger believes that teachers are no longer providers of content, but should learn to be providers of context.

The first morning session found a room full of educators ready for “26 iPads and an iPad cart” presented by 4th grade teachers, Amy Smith, Abby David and Kyle Parvin. These teachers used Padlet to host their presentation, modeling the way this collaborative application can be used in the classroom. My Big Campus is the way their classrooms interact with their learning and assessments placing all resources, links and classwork in one place for students. The My Big Campus app is loaded on all student iPads, so signing in is easy. They shared many apps that can be used in the elementary classroom, pointing everyone to two sources for free educational apps: Apps Gone Free and iPadSammy. Connect with these innovative educators for more great ways to integrate the iPad into the classroom.

Scott Meech (@smeech) from Apple, Inc. is a familiar face at many of our conferences this summer, sharing his expertise and a perspective on how technology is being integrated in Indiana schools. Today he hosted a session focused on growing digital leaders. In preparing for digital learning, he shared that there are many areas (or buckets) that must be on a leader's radar. Together, these buckets form Apple's Framework for Success. Some important areas from this list include vision, strategic planning, community engagement, and professional development. IT considerations and sustainable funding are also fundamental, but without leadership attention given to each of these areas, any implementation of technology will struggle.

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