More than 700 teachers, school administrators, school board trustees and managers from central Alberta school divisions converged at the Ponoka Secondary Campus last week to get informed and exchange ideas on introducing and using technology in education processes.
In the course of the two-day event, 65 separate sessions were held focusing on specific aspects of technology, mainly digital technology, being utilized in facilitating and enriching the learning experience for students at every level. Sessions focused on anything from the use of a digital platform to benefits of specific software in enhancing education.
It was the fifth edition of the event, which Ponoka Secondary Campus has been organizing annually, and the keynote speaker of the event, Mark Garrison, a teacher from Minneapolis, brought some interesting perspectives to the participants basing his presentation on a four-month kayaking trip he took with his wife back in 2002.
Taking the cue from the trip, rather the curiosity inspired by the trip, Garrison told his audience gathered at the school gym that while technology was a great tool for education, it was rather the mindset that should enhance the learning process.
“Boring stuff is still boring on a Chromebook or an iPad”, Garrison said.
He urged the participants to “get into right mindset” by exploring how the technology could be used better to enhance the learning experience for the students.
“We, as educators, are mirrors,” Garrison continued, stressing that teachers’ own curiosity, willing to learn and their desire to explore new horizons would reflect on their students as well.
He added that teachers should not refrain from learning with their students.
Admitting that the current generation of secondary school students was at least as computer literate as their teachers,Garrison said “technology allowed teachers to learn in front of their students” and that was something to be appreciated. He said that would inspire the students to explore and learn by themselves outside the classroom.
He listed five elements, vision, skill, incentive, resources and an action plan as the main inputs to the process of education,which he described with the word “change”.
Garrison said technology was only one part of the equation and he appealed to the participants to embrace change by expanding their vision.