Helping students achieve the skills they need to succeed in the global economy; assessing skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration; and the role of technology to support a new learning environment are among the key topics to be considered at this year’s Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) national technology leadership conference, which begins March 9.

CoSN’s annual school networking conference and exposition opens Sunday, March 9, at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Crystal City, Va., just outside of Washington, D.C., with the pre-conference symposium, “Bringing Web 2.0 Innovation to Our Schools: Leadership and Policy Challenges,” beginning at 8:00 a.m.

Now in its 13th year, CoSN’s annual conference draws more than 1,100 district, state, and national ed-tech leaders from around the country to learn from others as they work to define the future of the internet and technology in the nation’s schools.

On March 9 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., the conference will kick off with an opening welcome reception in the exhibit hall. The exhibit hall will be open exclusively on Monday, March 10, from 9:45 to 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., and on Tuesday, March 11, from 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. And as a value-added opportunity, 15-minute vendor demonstrations of new ed-tech solutions will be held during exhibit hall hours on both March 10 and 11.

On March 10, from 8:00 to 9:45 a.m., a leading large-scale global assessment expert and a U.S. educational researcher and practitioner will explore the issue of “21st Century Learning: Embedding New Skills and Assessments,” at the Welcome/State of CoSN Address. Chris Dede, the Timothy E. Wirth Professor of Learning Technologies at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, will moderate the discussion.

Breakout sessions will continue throughout March 10 and 11, led by a wide range of conference presenters and moderators, all focused on seven key “strands”: (1) Leadership for Transformation: Exploring the critical role of leadership; (2) Accountability and Assessment: Using data to personalize instruction; (3) Innovative Use of Emerging Technologies: Identifying cutting-edge technologies and innovative applications in K-12 education; (4) Content and Integration: Leveraging technology to advance student learning; (5) Professional Development for Technology Leaders: Building your professional capacity; (6) Supporting Research for Technology Implementation: Examining what the research tells us about how technology can improve student achievement; and (7) Business and Operations: Using technology to improve operational effectiveness and efficiency.

On the evening of March 10, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m., CoSN will hold its 4th Annual Auction for Advocacy, a reception and silent auction in support of advocacy efforts to raise awareness of the necessity for ed-tech funding in the nation’s schools.

And on Tuesday, March 11, from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m., best-selling author and innovation expert Daniel Pink will close the conference with a keynote titled “New Skills for the Whole New Mind.” In Daniel Pink’s best-selling book “A Whole New Mind,” he argues that the future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind. In this closing address, Mr. Pink will reveal the six essential aptitudes on which professional success and personal fulfillment now depend. He will explore what these mean for education and how his vision parallels or differs from the Framework for 21st Century Skills developed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

In conjunction with the conference, on March 11 and 12, CoSN, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) will sponsor the 2nd Annual Washington Education Technology Policy Summit.

Beginning at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11, participants will hear from key leaders and policy makers about the latest ed-tech policy issues–including federal funding, the eRate, and reauthorization of No Child Left Behind–and network with colleagues from all over the country. On Wednesday, March 12, participants will hear from a congressional leader, receive pointers and preparation for congressional meetings, and meet directly with congressional staff from their state to share their experiences about the importance of technology in the classroom. Summit organizers will arrange for participant meetings and will prepare participants with appropriate talking points.

For complete coverage of CoSN’s conference, keep watching the Conference Information Center at eSchool News Online all week.

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