Today's students expect anytime, anywhere access.
Technology’s potential to improve and revolutionize education knows no limits: This was the resounding message during the first day of the Texas Computer Education Association’s annual conference.
In fact, the conference theme is “no limITs,” a reference both to technology’s potential and the role that information technology plays in the lives of people everywhere and at each stage of education.
“Anytime, anywhere technology is changing and transforming our classrooms,” said Joel Petersen, vice president of strategic relations at netTrekker, which is a TCEA sponsor.
“School extends beyond the four walls of our classrooms,” said Karla Burkholder, vice president of convention on the TCEA Board, noting that distance learning enables students to view sights from across the world and access learning opportunities they may otherwise not have been able to.
Teachers give students opportunities to learn the “21st century skills that are so critical to their success,” she noted.
And technology changes so rapidly that while conference sessions once included the acronym BYOL (Bring Your Own Laptop), the phrase has changed to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in a nod to the plethora of netbooks, tablets, and other handheld mobile devices.
TCEA Board President Elect Lacey Gosch said today’s students expect classrooms that use digital tools in every step of the learning process.
“Only through the use of technology can we make their expectations a reality,” she said.
Texas, like many other states, is suffering from strained school budgets, sharp declines in property tax revenues, and fears that education funding hasn’t hit its lowest point.
“Our children’s future is in our legislators’ hands,” Gosch said.
Texas Rep. Rob Eissler, chair of the education committee in the Texas House of Representatives, encouraged attendees to help their students find relevance in education.
“Relevance is what keeps kids in school. … If a child sees that his or her time is worth [spending in school],” that child will become more engaged in education, he said.
Eissler acknowledged educators’ funding fears, but he predicted that more money will be funneled to content delivery solutions designed to reach all children.
“Kids will pick Google or Bing over the World Book,” he said. Educators must adapt their teaching techniques and their expectations of students based on how students want and need to learn: with technology.
“We need economical solutions to reach more kids effectively. … The use of technology is most economical, because it reaches more kids, [and] faster,” he said.
Keynote speaker Leigh Anne Tuohy, who was portrayed by Sandra Bullock in the film The Blind Side, encouraged the audience to step out of its comfort zone.
Teachers, in particular, are poised to help all children succeed in school and in life, she said.
“You truly are the people who can make a difference,” she said.