iPad Summit – San Diego – Reflection

Thoughts and Reflections about the San Diego iPad Summit

     The San Diego iPad Summit was held at the San Diego Convention Center February 3-5, 2014. The theme was “Leading Change in Changing Times,” and it was sponsored by the EdTech company, which holds iPad conferences around the country several times each year. Several hundred school technology leaders, teachers, and administrators were in attendance, and it was a dynamic and engaging conference. Five from University Prep attended and I was privileged to be one. Here are some of my main takeaways from the conference:

1.    I’ve come away from the iPad Summit with a more realistic view of apps and what they can offer. In the same way that a hammer is a tool with a specific purpose, an app is the same – a tool with advantages and limitations.

As Stephanie Harman said in her presentation, “It’s Not about the Apps,” most apps do one thing         really well – and that is what we should expect from them. Apps can be overwhelming, she said, and we should not design lesson plans around them, we should design lesson plans around learning objectives – and then find the apps that will help us reach those objectives.

2.  I was struck by the fact that at least three presenters commented on how technology is changing relationships between students and teachers – that technology is leading to a more egalitarian relationship.

Calling on students to teach the technology and having them correct each other’s work were two repeated themes (especially from public school teachers with upwards of 120-150 students a day).

Don Orth and Kelly Scholten, in the all-day Middle School session, said that it’s OK to make a tech mistake in your classroom and that students are likely to be far more comfortable with a teacher’s mistake than teachers are – and students are eager to help you solve a tech challenge.

Think of your tech challenge as a time for your students to shine.

Samantha Morra, in her excellent Digital Storytelling session, said ‘Don’t introduce new apps. Every time you have a new app, give the kids 10 minutes with it. They will get far more out of (their exploration) than by having you introduce it.’

3. Douglas Kiang, technology integration specialist of Punahou School in Hawaii, led one of the most compelling workshops I’ve ever attended – anytime, anywhere; I’ll leave the last word to him:

“Technology challenges us to think of ourselves as being at the heart of the classroom of the future – even though we’re not at the front of it.”

Respectfully submitted,

Mark Cullen

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