Future Ready summit tackles how to plan for tomorrow’s ed tech

A recent regional summit brought superintendents together to discuss the future of education

future-readyEarlier this week, 43 school district leadership teams from states up and down the West coast and Hawaii gathered together on May 4 and 5 at the Computer History Museum in northern California for this year’s seventh Future Ready Schools Regional Summit. Despite a focus on using technology to prepare for education’s future, discussions about specific devices or applications were completely absent.

Instead, the agenda—the same for all Future Ready Regional Summits— focused on each of the seven gears of the Future Ready Framework that are essential for any school district technology plan: curriculum, instruction, and assessment; professional learning; technology, networks, and hardware; budget and resources; data and privacy; use of time; and community partnerships.

Throughout the two-day event, district leaders collaborated in both face-to-face conversations and through the online back channels running throughout the two days on Twitter (#FutureReady) and Today’s Meet. The goal is for participants to learn from each other as well as from the educational technology veterans in attendance on how to create, implement, and sustain a thoughtful plan to use technology to effectively improve student learning.

From the energetic welcome by Thomas Murray, State and District Digital Learning Policy and Advocacy Director for the Alliance for Excellent Education to the closing reflections led by Dr. Mary Ann Wolf, Director of Digital Learning Programs for The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, there was a laser-like focus on doing what is best for today’s learner.

Breakout sessions over the two days were led by thought leaders with expertise in each of the seven gears. Following each breakout session district teams gathered together to review their own district’s Future Ready District Assessment and update their individual district plan based on what they learned about each essential element from the discussion leaders and other district leaders. Participants greatly appreciated the time for team collaboration and ready access to experienced professionals, who were always willing to lend a hand or collaborate alongside attendees.

The Future Ready Summit in Northern California was the seventh out of thirteen Regional Summits scheduled for 2015. The road trip for organizers began with the first event held in February in Raleigh, N.C. The recent Northern California event brought the largest number of participants to date. (Due to increased demand, an additional Regional Summit has been added for Southern California and will take place on August 5-6 in Orange County, California).

The next Future Ready Schools Regional Summit is in Houston, Texas and runs May 18-19. Registration for all upcoming Regional Summits is free for superintendents and their leadership teams. The only requirement for registration is that a superintendent has signed the Future Ready District Pledge—which nearly 2,000 superintendents have already done. Also, prior to attending a regional summit, the district’s leadership team must complete the free online Future Ready District Assessment.

The summit was co-produced by the Alliance for Excellent Education and the Office of Educational Technology at the US Department of Education with support from the LEAD Commission and a coalition of 40 national/leading education organizations.

Ann McMullan is an education technology consultant based in Los Angeles.

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