Lessons from ICE14

by Hope Morley

Last week, Erin Dye and I attended the ICE Conference out in St. Charles, Illinois. We met a lot of great people and heard too many great sessions to summarize here, but we thought we’d share our biggest takeaways from both days.

  • Communication is key. We’re all better educators when we talk (or blog, or tweet, or pin…). Connecting and sharing with other teachers is essential and technology makes it so easy. As George Couros said in his keynote, “Isolation is a choice educators make.” If you don’t make the right choice, you risk becoming irrelevant.
  • Technology means you have to work together more—not be more isolated. A common misperception of technology in the classroom is that it will turn all students into isolated drones who don’t need a teacher. In fact, technology is a great tool for collaboration (CCSS recognizes this too!). Using such tools as Google Apps for Education, Skype, Twitter, blogs, and more encourage students to work collaboratively and learn to communicate. And teachers are necessary to guide students through it all.
  • Focusing on the tools is the wrong approach. It seems like many schools are starting down the tech integration path by saying “iPads are cool! Let’s get some iPads!” without first thinking about what device would be best for their students. Instead, schools and teachers need to focus on teaching and learning first. Older students may benefit more from Chromebooks or laptops that are better for writing, while younger ones may excel with tablets. In addition, schools need to make professional development for teachers a priority.
  • Learning should not be restricted to the classroom. With all the technology available to students, learning now happens everywhere. Educators need to encourage that 24/7 kind of learning. Students should be encouraged to use the tools at their disposal to enhance school work and learn about topics that interest them.
  • Teachers need to care about both the students and the school. Tech integration is hard work. The teacher leaders who blaze that trail need to be committed to improving their school for the future, not the moment. Despite the stereotype that young teachers bring in tech savviness, it’s the experienced teachers who see the benefits of the tools and can fight for inclusion.

For those of you who couldn’t attend, check out the presentations posted on the ICE wiki and YouTube. Did you attend ICE this year? What takeaways did you have?

Hope MorleyHope Morley is a consultant and social media coordinator for Green Light Professional Development. She writes about social media, conferences, and anything else on the web that helps both students and teachers learn. Follow her @GreenlightLT

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