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

February 19, 2018

Squirrels Strengthens OETC Partnership at APDX and IPDX

The ingredients for a successful EdTech conference:

  1. A relevant theme
  2. Top EdTech speakers
  3. Fun, like-minded educators

AcceleratED (APDX) and IntegratED (IPDX) meet all three.

APDX and IPDX are annual events hosted by the Organization for Educational Technology and Curriculum (OETC) in Portland, Oregon that focus on administrators and EdTech leaders.

Related: How Schools Save on ClassHub: OETC Edition

Relevant theme

Technology integration is a hot topic in schools around the country, so it’s no surprise that this year’s conferences focus on technology integration strategies. As educators look to understand the pedagogy of technology, integration can often be a challenge.

Here’s a thought from “10 Big Ideas for Technology Integration by Tony Vincent to get you started: Technology is integrated well when instruction is modified to meet the needs of the digital-age learner.

Top EdTech speakers

EdTech speakers offer insight, expertise, tools, tips and even a laugh or two to inspire attendees to reach their goals. Their powerful messages propel attendees forward and show them a different way of thinking that empowers and excites the idea of change.

One speaker we’d like to highlight in particular is our friend Leslie Fisher. Leslie is the director of Fisher Technologies, Inc., and the creator and operator of lesliefisher.com. She’s a former K–12 systems engineer for Apple who now consults, trains and presents with educators around the world.

We’re lucky enough to co-present with her to spread the word about Squirrels and our classroom device management and monitoring technology. Find our session information below. 

Wednesday, February 21 – APDX
Device Management for Administrators
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
Cascade C

Thursday, February 22 – IPDX
How to Make Student Devices Teacher Friendly
1:15 – 2:15 p.m.
Cascade C

Like-minded educators

When you surround yourself with educators that inspire you, support you, challenge you and ultimately make you a better person/teacher, your conference experience becomes all the more rewarding.

APDX and IPDX are committed to offering a supportive community of educators who are all working together to improve education. Workshops are designed to be small, personalized environments where educators can teach and learn collaboratively.

Final thoughts

Whether you’re attending to see us co-present with Leslie, collaborate with your colleagues or hear industry leaders speak, we’d love to meet you! Although the Squirrels team won’t have a booth, we’ll be there to learn, connect and educate.

And remember…if you’re a member of OETC, you’re eligible for a discount on our classroom technology! Ask us more at one of our sessions or if you see us around!

December 8, 2017

Are we too late for computer science education?

This is the first of a three-part guest post series from Angie Kalthoff, Technology Integrationist at a Minnesota public school district. In this series, Angie analyzes where the K12 education system stands with computer science education. 

Students often get their first dose of computer science education in high school. 

For many, that’s too late.

Studies show that if students are not exposed to computer science by fourth grade, stereotypes about people who are not good at science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) begin to form. These social stereotypes deter girls and students of color in particular from entering the computer science field.

This is a problem.

Computer science introduces critical literacies, such as coding, and skills that are fundamental to the development of college- and career-ready students in the 21st century.

How do we fix this?

We can provide earlier access and opportunities while highlighting self-efficacy in computer science. Students should begin learning computer science as early as kindergarten. That will help build a diverse computing landscape.

Introducing computer science in kindergarten will help prevent education stereotypes from forming during the time when students are curious, learning about the world and developing their interests.

Why not bring more technology experiences into our primary classrooms?

Based on a study of classroom teachers’ experiences, the primary motivation for teachers to use technology is the belief that technology will make them better educators and positively impact student learning. 

While most teachers believe that technology benefits students, few of them successfully integrate technology into their curriculum in a meaningful way. My colleague and friend, Diana Fenton, is working to change this by introducing her preservice teachers to technology integration best practices and computer science education early in their college experience.

Resources
Teachers who are not able to take Diana’s class can use the following resources for professional development opportunities:

TPACK
Teachers who are currently in a classroom setting can follow the TPACK model for guidance on technology integration. By working together, we combine our skillset in the following areas: Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge, which encompass TPACK. My district encourages this type of co-teaching.

Challenge yourself
I didn’t think that I could introduce computer science at the beginning of the school year when I was a kindergarten English language teacher. That’s an important time for developing relationships and establishing routines.

Then I challenged myself to think of how one of those routines could incorporate a computer science station in small group rotations. I saw the progress we made with computer science integration and decided to introduce it even earlier the following year to see what we could do with a whole school year.

Coming Up...
Stay tuned! In the second installment of this three-part series, I share how computer science lessons are integrated into our classrooms and how they connect with state standards, the ISTE Standards for Students and the CS Framework. 

To dive deeper into the research, visit the following resources:

Google. (2014). Women who choose computer science—what really matters: The critical role of exposure and encouragement.

Mountain View, CA: Author. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-E2rcvhnlQ_a1Q4VUxWQ2dtTHM/edit

Huebner, G. (2017, April 20). Coding for Kids | 5 Reasons to Teach Kids to Code. Retrieved November 07, 2017, from http://blog.kodable.com/2014/07/07/5-reasons-to-teach-kids-to-code-2/

Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T., Glazewski, K. D., Newby, T. J., & Ertmer, P. A. (2010). Teacher value beliefs associated with using technology: Addressing professional and student needs. Computers & Education, 55(3), 1321-1335.

Young programmers -- think playgrounds, not playpens | Marina Bers | TEDxJackson [Advertisement]. (2015, January 20). Retrieved October 10, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOQ-9S3lOnM

January 24, 2017

Gym Class JitterBug: How To Play The Game Teachers Are Raving About

A video began circulating on Facebook about a week ago that showed elementary-aged kids frantically throwing dodgeballs at a wall trying to smash virtual bugs. That video now has over 30 million views, and it recently became the number one post on the front page of Reddit.

What is this game….and how can you bring it to your school’s gymnasium? Turns out it’s pretty simple.

 

The video was originally posted on the West Elementary School (Batesville, Arkansas) Facebook page. The teacher is using an app called JitterBug. The app was created by Friskies® (yes, the cat food brand) and was originally intended to allow cats to tap interactive bugs on their owners' iPad® or iPhone® (also available for Android™). If you’ve ever owned a cat, you know they have an irresistible urge to swat anything and everything.

Educators have found a new way to use Friskies’ JitterBug app in gym class. They simply wirelessly display their iPad or iPhone onto the wall using a projector. When a student hits a bug on the wall with a ball, the teacher taps the bug on his or her screen to make that bug disappear. To the students, it looks like they are making the bugs disappear when they hit one. In reality, the teacher simply monitors the wall to see which bugs the students hit and then taps the same bugs on the device. Pretty cool, right?

How to projector your iPad or iPhone on the wall

It sounds complicated, but this is very easy as well. In the video, the teacher has the iPad wirelessly mirrored to an Apple TV®, and the Apple TV is connected to a projector. However, PhysEd teacher Jared Carder did it by wirelessly mirroring his iPad to Reflector® software on his computer. His computer was connected to the projector, so he didn’t need an Apple TV at all. Reflector software ($15) is a more cost-effective alternative to Apple TV ($149).

Either way, what a cool use of technology to get kids engaged and moving. The ingenuity of teachers around the world amazes us every day.

Want the same great technology that the most innovative educators are using do do this and more?

Get Reflector to replicate these ideas at your school to boost collaboration and sharing in the classroom.....or to get kids moving in gym class!

Don't forget: Use the comment section below to let us know what innovate ways you're using technology this school year! 

January 23, 2017

Squirrels Presents Classroom Technology at Bett and FETC

Who run the world? Squirrels!

Thirteen members of the Squirrels team will travel a total of more than 9,400 miles by plane, cab, Uber and train to Orlando, Florida, and London to attend two of the world's premier EdTech conferences.

British Educational Training and Technology Show (Bett)
January 25-28
London, England

The Squirrels team is set to attend the Bett Show for the second time. We're eager to show more than 34,000 educators, administrators and EdTech professionals from over 138 countries how our products and services are used in the classroom.

This international EdTech conference is designed to create a better future by transforming education and bringing people, ideas, practices and technologies together so educators and learners can reach their full potential. Every educator can make a difference in education given the opportunity, which is what Bett aims to provide.

Featured conference keynotes include:

If you’re attending Bett feel free to stop by and say hello to the Squirrels team in booth E378! We would love the chance to meet and connect with our international customers and friends!

Future of Education Technology (FETC)
January 24-27
Orland, Florida

While four members of our team are busy in London, the other seven will be in Orlando exhibiting at the 37th National FETC conference. FETC is one of the largest EdTech conferences where preK-12 educators connect and collaborate to learn how to leverage technology for student success.

If you are attending FETC, make sure to catch these EdTech leaders at one of their sessions:

  • Blended Learning Coach, Marcia Kish
  • Director of Innovation and Co-Founder of Edventure Quests, Katrina Keene
  • Literacy Specialist at Calliope Global and Professor at Saint Leo University, Jennifer Williams
  • EdTech Specialist at Kennesaw State University, David Lockhart
  • Educational Technology Professional Development Trainer, Kathy Schrock
  • Principal at Poinciana High School, Michael Meechin
  • Instructional Coach, Billy Spicer
  • Educational Technology Coordinator at PA Leadership Charter School, Courtney Kofeldt
  • Director of Fisher Technologies Inc., Leslie Fisher
  • K-12 Director of Instructional Technology at Oakland-Alabama Central Schools and Adjunct Professor of Educational Technologies at Canisius College, Rob Zdrojewski

Squirrels co-founder Andrew Gould will give in-booth presentations featuring our new classroom technology on the following days:

Wednesday, January 25
3:15 p.m.
4:15 p.m.

Thursday, January 26
9:45 a.m.
2:45 p.m.
4:00 p.m.

Friday, January 27
9:45 a.m.
11:15 a.m.

Stop by booth #1945 to say hi to the Squirrels team, demo our products and learn about our newest EdTech solution!

Happy learning, all! To see where the Squirrels team will be this year, check out our 2017 conference schedule.

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!