My first trip to SXSWEdu!
Being an instructional technologist/specialist/coach...or whatever you would like to call me comes at an important cost: constant professional growth. That is THE best challenge of being in this position: You are always learning; especially since technology applications change every single day!!!
I must say I love it! I love the fact that this year I have attended ISTE, TCEA and now SXSWEdu--all in my first year as an iTech! This conference...didn't feel like the ordinary, same ol' same. It was special.
At all conferences, there's lots of sessions and people are sharing, yet at SXSWEdu, the communication was unique. There was lots of variations in how we communicated. Here's a few ways I experienced it...
The panel spoke on the lack of diversity in tech companies and how we, as educators can't allow edtech companies to follow suite. So how, can we change this now? As an audience, some solutions WE discussed were to encourage tech companies to include the educators who they service in their companies, to get parents involved by communicating the importance of tech careers early on for students and even developing student internships. Lastly, it was discussed to support educators with trainings and reaching out to articulate the opportunities in coding and computer science in general.
When I won my badge for SXSWEdu (learn more here), the first thing I thought about was attending this panel discussion. I was really looking forward to seeing all of these women again, since they are apart of my PLN (via twitter and Google +) and our brief interaction from ISTE and TCEA. The conversation was addressing minority women in Educational Technology and it was truly eye opening and honestly refreshing.
The discussion was for all and addressed respecting and supporting each other and our skills. Education technology is a collaborative field which encompasses innovating education and how students learn. Working together to acknowledge our strengths and support each other to strengthen each other was the aim of the conversation. Understanding that we have all faced obstacles at one point or another was worthy to hear. Sometimes you feel alone, like some obstacles just happen to you, as a woman, minority or even someone with a disability. Knowing that you aren't alone and that there is a support system in PLNs made this one of the best sessions at SXSWEdu this year!
This conversation is not heard. And even though, it was a discussion directly to minorities (whether by sex or race), it does open the door to a deeper conversation on what does the face of tech look like for our students...in their environments. I'm hoping the conversation continues. I'm willing to have that conversation.
Video courtesy of Crystal Morgan
15 minute sessions
Imagine that idea. Teachers want smaller class sizes, higher pay, more support.We want a system that is fair, accountable and great for us, right? Ethan Gray (Education Cities) shared this reality, where school are run by educators directly and the impact it is started to have on public education today and how it will impact all schools in the future. His session was inciteful and definitely has components that will generate conversations in schools across the country with teachers and school leaders alike.
Oh what fun!!!!
An unexpected meet and greet (so to speak) was with Josef Yohannes, creator of the first Black international super hero: The Urban Legend! Josef is an humanitarian activist and Nelson Mandela Scholar who created this super hero who sends a powerful message to today's youth around the globe, about justice and diversity. The comics address civic, racial and social issues. In Norway, the comic book is now an official part of the school curriculum! I hope we can see more of the Urban Legend in the US really soon!
From registration, to exploring coding, circuits and even LEGOS in the afternoon, SWSWEdu has exciting at every turn. Meeting the founder of ThingLink, Ulla Engeström,(one of the favorite applications) was yet another surprising moment of the day! It was wonderful being surrounded by strong, innovative women at an international conference! I can't wait to share with my students how women inventors change our world and represent for girls everywhere!
The pattern of this conference was definitely to be fed! What do I mean by that? Most conferences are people talking at you...Giving you information and then you move on to the next session. This conference was one of a holistic feel. There was lots of conversations...in the sessions, with the panels (which felt like small intimate conversations) and even in larger venues....I could go on...and I will: BEFORE the sessions and even after. The talk, conversation, (both written and spoken) was all academic, innovative and uplifting and I have never been apart of it, quite so profound. It was emotional even and it "fed" my spirit. It was like an injection of an infection for me so to speak.
SXSWEdu ignited two things: 1. reminded me why I do what I do (for students and to service my community) and 2. it gave me a boost to continue to teach and possibly inspire others (other educators).
SXSWEdu was a GLOBAL event! I met people from all over the globe who came together for the same purpose: to transform thinking and look at ways to innovate (improve something that already exists) education. I'm for it.
- For the discussion of the disparities and diversity in education.
- For providing more opportunities for innovation in schools, especially for our undeserved communities.
Wow! The best part of this conference was that these topics aren't spoken. Never discussed out loud..to me anyways. I loved hearing what was in my head, spoken out loud and now I'm evaluating how I can change it.