Wednesday and Thursday of this week marked my third year attending the MassCUE Technology Conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. This also marked my first year presenting at the conference, which was an extremely exciting opportunity to share in the forward thinking, technology-geek-teacher ridden community MassCUE represents. To give you some background, MassCUE stands for Massachusetts Computer Using Educators and is has its roots as a small organization of educators from Western Massachusetts that started meeting in 1982 to discuss the ways they were trying (and sometimes failing) to implement computer use in their schools and classrooms. Since those early meetings, it has become a major conference, boasting thousands of attendees, many supporting vendors, expert presenters (obviously this is where I come in) and enough clout in education to pack the luxury levels of Gillette Stadium!
This year’s Keynote speakers were fantastic. Tony Wagner and Chris Lehmann both offered messages of encouragement for teachers striving to do better. They also suggested that the Hollywood style “hero teacher” story line of a single educator changing the world with the magnitude of his or her love of educating children is not the thing on which school systems ought to depend. Lehmann explained that a few great teachers in a broken system, on the grand scale, just can’t win. Morgan Freeman can’t single handedly fix a system that seems to inherently remove passion and enthusiasm from both the children and adults within, not even with his powerfully reassuring narrative voice, fatherly care for inner city kids, or vast and emotional understanding of adorable Antarctic animals. Wagner suggested that a systemic shift was needed in the age of Google away from what kids know and towards what kids could do with that found knowledge. I thoroughly enjoyed the philosophical play of these presentations, and they served to set the tone for the collective group at the conference both days.
Now, philosophy is great and all, and who doesn’t love to debate a little Dewey, contemplate Horace’s Compromise, or discuss the global economy flattening and how American political structures are failing our future citizens… but I came to the conference to learn and share PRACTICAL classroom techniques. So, I attended a couple of presentations by the lovely folks at EdTechTeacher. Their sessions by Greg Kulowiec and Beth Holland were applicable, relevant, and practical, and both are available here if you are interested in checking them out.
What this group does so well, and what I think needs to be a bigger part of the conversation in education regarding technology implementation, is discuss pedagogy before devices. Greg, Beth, and everyone else I’ve ever worked with from this group asks first what the objectives of the lesson/unit/learning experience are. Only after those are established do they consider how technology can support that. This is paramount to the concept of effectively implementing technology. In other words…
All in all, the experience reminded me why I try so hard to implement technology, and why I believe it is a worthy pursuit. Thank you to everyone who presented, attended, and shared in positive thought about the role of teaching and technology today! I’ll be posting more soon about the specifics of my learning these past few days, and what I shared with people at MassCUE as well, so stay tuned!