April 23, 2018

Should you attend EduTech Asia 2018?

Should You Attend EduTech Asia 2018?

I was inspired. I was motivated.

Everything I want in a conference was everything that EduTech Asia 2017 in Singapore gave me.

The question is: will it inspire you?

I’ve recounted my experience below for anyone who may be uncertain about attending EduTech Asia 2018 this October. I hope my thoughts give you a general idea of what to expect and help you decide if it’s worth the investment. 

Looking back at EduTech Asia 2017

EduTech Asia 2017 was the first conference I attended as a member of the Alpha Squirrels program created by Squirrels. The company helped send me there so I could speak to attendees about student voice and digital citizenship, but my time at the conference became so much more than a speaking opportunity.

What’s EduTech Asia?

EduTech Asia is a three-day conference and exhibition of innovation and technology in education. It gathers educators, EdTech specialists, education leaders and startup leaders from all around the globe to share and explore how technology impacts learning and creates positive changes in education.

That’s standard boilerplate language, but the conference lived up to its billing. I witnessed education enthusiasts sharing and learning from each other to achieve a common goal: bettering education for the world’s youth.

More than a speaking opportunity

Like I said, this was more than a speaking opportunity. I achieved my goal of sharing knowledge with others, but I also acquired knowledge that will benefit me on a professional level for years to come.

EduTech Asia 2017 showcased all that is great in education technology innovation. It was amazing to experience the keynote presentations, panel discussions, roundtables, collaborative EduSlams and innovative on-floor activities.

I was treated to an exciting array of technology products and services on display on the exhibition show floor. I found technology that helps me prepare my students for the future globally competitive and technologically equipped workforce. 

Designed to fit your goals

The conference is constructed in a way that makes it easy to find topics that align with your needs. Attendees can choose between eight tracks designed to provide an in-depth understanding about how technology shapes the following education sectors: 

  • K-12 leaders
  • Tertiary leaders
  • IT leaders
  • Special needs
  • Early years
  • Educational policy
  • Vocational
  • Business leaders

Events and exhibitions included sessions for educators by educators, live demos of the latest innovations and technologies, a tech showcase and startup theatre featuring the latest EdTech deployments in schools, institutions and classrooms, and an AR/VR Zone that demonstrated how this emerging technology is used in the classroom.

Robotics

Want to explore robotics? You're in luck!

The EduTech Asia robotic pavilion hosted mini robotics and coding workshops, as well as the 5th Singapore National CoSpace and RoboMaker Challenges 2017.

Additionally, the IMDA Digital Makerspace provided a series of workshops to nurture a new generation of digital natives with a passion to create with technology.

Looking forward to EduTech Asia 2018

EduTech Asia 2018 returns to Singapore Oct. 8-11 where a ton of talented educators and EdTech coaches will be on hand to share stories and expertise with attendees.

Connect with me on Twitter, and be sure to look me up if you decide to go. I look forward to meeting you and swapping education adventures.

Raymond Mitchel Africa is a Middle Years Programme (MYP) science teacher at an international school in Xiamen, China, and a member of the Alpha Squirrel program

March 27, 2018

#SquirrelsChat Recap: Designing for #FutureReady Learning

Classroom design has remained largely the same for centuries – heavy metal desks and chairs lined up in columns and rows, while a teacher lectures at the front of the room.

Despite the stagnant classroom design, lesson plans have evolved to include technology, collaboration, innovation, creativity and flexibility. This leaves a major disconnect between today’s innovative curriculum and outdated classroom furniture.  

This month’s #SquirrelsChat explored how teachers can transform their traditional classroom into a space where students feel welcome and want to learn. You’ll learn how the physical environment of a classroom impacts learning, what factors to consider when redesigning, how to involve students, design hacks and more! 

Related: #SquirrelsChat Recap: Student Engagement

Join #SquirrelsChat the third Thursday of every month for the best education tips, strategies and ideas at 8 p.m. ET. You can stay up to date on chat topics and moderators by following us on Twitter (@Squirrels). 

How physical environment impacts learning + collaboration

A physical classroom environment can either foster collaboration and promote learning, or it can limit it. Every space has its own vibe – make yours positive!

 

What factors to consider when designing a learning space

Start by looking at what your goals are for the class and students. Design your space around that. A learning space should be a combination of things that benefit students and make sense for you as the teacher.

How to involve students

Simply put – go straight to the source! Ask students to describe their favorite place to hang out. Sometimes the best ideas come out of the most creative answers!

Design hacks for making a future-ready classroom on a budget 

Dish racks, ironing boards, beach chairs and tennis balls are all options for redesigning on a budget. Take a look at how educators are using these easy-to-find items below.

Advice to overcome redesign obstacles

We can’t stress this enough…start small! Something as small as changing sound and lighting in a room can bring positivity and inspiration to a space.

Don’t miss the next #SquirrelsChat on April 19 at 8 p.m. ET!

February 27, 2018

Computer science: How To Teach It In Your Primary Classroom

This is the third installment of a three-part guest post series from Technology Integrationist Angie Kalthoff analyzing computer science in the K-12 education system. Read part one, Are We Too Late For Computer Science Education?, and part two, How To Teach Computer Science If You’re Not A Computer Scientist.

Computer Science_ How to Teach itand What to Consider-2.png

In 2017, I received a grant that supported our district's efforts to implement computational thinking in the K-5 classroom. In order to achieve a successful implementation, we needed to consider how our approach to computational thinking would complement:

Our team, consisting of teachers, media specialists and various other education professionals, created a scope and sequence for each grade level that incorporated both plugged and unplugged activities.

In this post, I will share with you lessons to take back to your classroom that we have found useful. To learn more about the grant, you can reach out to me on Twitter @mrskalthoff.

State standards and district curriculum
As a reference point, I’ve included state standards that we considered when developing our computational thinking lessons.

English language arts standards state that students should be able to:

  • Participate in collaborative conversations
  • Create individual or shared multimedia work for a specific purpose
  • Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions to clarify ideas, thoughts and feelings
Mathematics standards state that students should be able to:
  • Solve and represent real-world and mathematical addition and subtraction problems
  • Understand how to interpret number sentences
  • Understand the relationship between the size of a unit of measurement and the number of units needed to measure
Computer Science Framework
We focused on the following concepts and subconcepts of the Computer Science Framework. Lessons are provided for each.

Algorithms
When students understand the relationship between algorithms and programs, they can take a list of instructions and encode it into a language. By the end of 2nd grade, the computer science framework states students should know that people follow and create processes as part of daily life. Many of these processes can be expressed as algorithms that computers can follow. Impacts of computing
Computing technology has positively and negatively changed the way people live and work. Computing devices can be used for entertainment and as productivity tools, and they can affect relationships and lifestyles. Debugging
Computing systems might not work as expected because of hardware or software problems. Clearly describing a problem is the first step toward finding a solution. Devices
People use computing devices to perform a variety of tasks accurately and quickly. Computing devices interpret and follow the instructions they are given literally.

Additional lessons can be found at https://hourofcode.com/us/learn.

Acknowledgments 
I would like to thank the wonderful group of classroom teachers, media specialists and various other education professionals that I was able to collaborate with on lesson creation and implementation.

Teachers
Brenda Thielen, Sally Davidson, Lindsey Nagorski, Jodi Heinen, Cathy Bautch, Amy Jensen, Julie Nefs, Brandi Richards, Kelli Ritter, Ted Hanson, Pam Holubetz, Eric Maas

Media Specialists
Jenny McNew, Linda Hollenkamp, Jennifer Dahlstrom-Lage, Cole Bacon, Sara Martini, Jessica Moore, Holly Nelson, Paul Olsen

Specialists
Amanda Anderson, Jason Menth, Jodie Kragness

University Partner
Diana Fenton

February 13, 2018

Squirrels Team Connects with Local Educators at OETC

Squirrels has covered a lot of ground in the last month.  

FETC: ✔

TCEA: ✔

Up next…the Ohio Educational Technology Conference (OETC) in Columbus, Ohio. 

We're making the quick two-hour drive from our North Canton offices for our fifth OETC experience. OETC is one of our favorite conferences of the year because it gives us a chance to catch up with our local Alpha Squirrels, share our latest technology and meet tons of hard-working Ohio educators.

What to see at OETC

Our Reflector software will be on display as usual, but you may notice a few differences – like the ability to screen peek and screenshot connected devices. That’s because we recently launched an education-streamlined version of Reflector called Reflector Teacher.  

Reflector Teacher is specially optimized for teachers and students for fast and reliable screen-mirroring in the classroom. Teachers can wirelessly display student devices on the big screen for the whole class to see. 

ClassHub is a device management and monitoring solution that allows teachers to maximize every moment their students spend with technology. With a suite of easy-to-use tools that keep class on track and engaged, educators can accomplish their number one objective: prepare students for future success.

Attending OETC with your district admins? Bring them by our booth -- we're happy to show you how to put ClassHub to work in your school. Contact us for more information.

Who to see at OETC

No conference is complete without sessions from members of our team and from our certified Alpha Squirrels. Be sure to check out these OETC sessions:

Tuesday, February 13

Keven Rinaman
3D Printing in the classroom
3 – 4 p.m.
B240-241

Wednesday, February 14

Becky Shiring
Emily Carle Hafer
Pizza, Projects, People: Create a Startup Culture in Your School
8 – 9 a.m.
A215

You know the drill, educators. Visit booth 235 for all your student device mirroring, monitoring and managing needs! OH – IO!

February 9, 2018

#SquirrelsChat Recap: Creating Startup Culture in the Classroom

Ping pong tables in the lounge. Free sushi and Red Bull in the fridge. The latest toys and gadgets littering the office.

You’ve likely heard these nauseating clichés about tech startups more times than you can count.

While those amenities may appear in startup culture, it’s critical to understand that the success of your team, colleagues or students does not derive from pool tables and free snacks. A true startup culture embodies growth, innovation, openness, experimentation, positivity and most of all, collaboration.

The February #SquirrelsChat laid the groundwork for developing a startup culture. Participants brainstormed ways to apply that cultural framework to educational environments.

What elements of startup culture can be found in education?

Start by looking at the physical attributes of modern classrooms. You’ll notice the parallels between innovation and education. Teachers and schools are becoming more intentional about creating environments that are conducive to collaboration and creativity.

What does a people-first mentality look like in classrooms & schools?

Simply put: a people-first mentality is looking at people beyond data, requirements and to-do lists. Focus on building relationships with your colleagues, students, admins, parents, etc. because ultimately, people are the foundation of any organization or culture.

What are ways to encourage collaboration in your environment

When we place value on collaboration, we need to find a way to cultivate it and make it part of the active culture.  

What impact does a culture of innovation have on student learning & achievement?

The term “future-ready skills” can be found across education today. It is difficult, if not impossible, for students to acquire future-ready skills with an educational mindset stuck in the 20th century.

What can you do to shift towards a culture of innovation?

In the words of Sir Ken Robinson, change happens from the ground up. Movements do not occur because someone in charge says it should happen. We should all feel empowered to make change happen, regardless of where we are.

Join #SquirrelsChat for the best education tips, strategies and ideas
Join #SquirrelsChat every first and third Thursday of the month at 8 p.m ET. You can stay up to date on chat topics and moderators by following us on Twitter (@Squirrels). 

Don’t miss the next #SquirrelsChat on February 15: Student Engagement with host Billy Spicer.

About Us

Squirrels is a software development company based in North Canton, Ohio. We create high-quality, budget-friendly screen mirroring and device management software that’s compatible with today’s most popular devices. To date, our software can be found in hundreds of thousands of classrooms, businesses and homes. Follow our blog for all the latest product updates, Squirrels news and technology insight!