How can teachers inspire learning? By empowering students

“We’ve empowered him, and he’s taken that instruction and is passing it along to other kids,” Hamilton said.

Davis related the story of her nine-year-old nephew, who wasn’t being inspired to learn in school. Yet, on his own, this young boy has learned how to make and control very sophisticated puppets by following his passion and watching YouTube videos—a hobby he has spent hours learning to master.

“Kid are born naturally inquisitive, but then we put them in a room, we tell them to sit down and be quiet—and we take that power away from them,” Davis said.

She added: “If you’re not doing something like self-directed, [project-based learning] in your classroom, then you’re missing out” on an opportunity to inspire and engage your students.

For winning the Creative Leap contest, both Hamilton and Davis will receive complimentary registrations to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Atlanta next month, courtesy of Promethean.

Revolutionizing education

Travis Allen, a senior at Kennesaw State, founded the iSchool Initiative to “revolutionize education through the use of technology.”

His company, which was born out of frustration when Allen was not allowed to use his cell phone for learning during high school, uses motivational speaking, workshops, and local presentations to help effect change. During the Educators Lounge event, he and Ross spoke about the need to empower students from the students’ perspective.

Technology gives students more power in the palm of their hands “than ever before,” Allen said—and yet this potential “is too often untapped in schools.”

While there are “several major barriers” to using mobile devices for learning in classrooms, “it rarely is a financial problem,” Allen said. More often, “it’s a cultural problem.”

The best way to change this culture, he said, is to shift educators’ mindsets from fearing technology to fearing the implications “if we don’t make this change.”

Other speakers included Tom Whitby, a former high school English teacher and college professor, and Steven Anderson, a former educator and instructional technology director who blogs about the Web 2.0 connected classroom. Whitby and Anderson co-created the popular Twitter hashtag #edchat.

The Dallas event, which was also streamed live online, was the first in a series of Educators Lounge events to be held across the country. You can learn more about these events at

(Editor’s note: eSchool News coverage of the Educators Lounge event was sponsored by Promethean ClassFlow. However, Promethean had no say in this report prior to its publication.)

Dennis Pierce

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