This weekend's workshop (and I think it's safe to assume it will be my last PD this year!) was focused on how EdTech can be used to support and enhance, and ensure rigour and relevance in teaching and learning, how to lead digital learning from the classroom to administrative level and innovative ideas to implement digital learning in schools.
Eric Sheninger, the workshop leader was a principal in New Jersey at a school which, at the time he stated leading there, had a lot of problems in terms of attendance, attainment and student lifestyle. Eric credits the turnaround in large part to the impact moving to a more digital environment and learning style had on students' interest in coming to school and the real-world application and skills this style of learning gave them.
Whilst Eric's context clearly is very different from ours, and the majority of the issues his school, teachers and students were facing do not reflect those in the majority of private international schools, the conversation around evidencing the benefits of EdTech were valuable, and there were some really exciting ideas I really hope we can adapt and put in place for our students.
The big takeaway for me from this was the learning I got about the makerspace movement. Now, don't feel bad if you haven't heard about it, since neither had I until yesterday, although I certainly seemed to be very much in the minority in that regard! Most teachers who were at the conference had a makerspace in some form in their school, whether that was on the small scale in their own classroom, or a large scale, impressively resourced one for their whole school or campus. Have a look at my post (coming soon!) about makerspaces for some links, resources and ideas on how we could explore them on the small and medium scale.
Other key themes Eric looked at included social media and how schools can utilise it to the benefit of the students and the organisation, practical tools for integration and organisational design to support technology integration in schools.
The International School of Luxembourg was also very impressive, and absolutely enormous! The teachers were very friendly, helpful and approachable and it was fascinating to meet their wonderful Primary Technology Facilitator and see the exciting work she is doing with kids in their makerspace and in classrooms.
Lots to think about in general and in terms of how it relates to our context, after a very worthwhile weekend, and if you are looking for me I'll probably be crawling around in the basement looking for places to put a makerspace ;)