Baltimore Rocks the EdSurge Tech For Schools Summit
As the Baltimore EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit wrapped up on Saturday afternoon, one entrepreneur stopped me. "I've got one question," he demanded. "Where did you find all these amazing teachers? What filters did you use to get them?"
Our answer: Amazing teachers choose themselves.
On February 20, EdSurge brought the Tech for Schools Summit to Baltimore--and more than 650 awesome teachers and administrators decided to devote their sunny and warm Saturday afternoon to exploring emerging edtech products.
They were inspiring--from those who were clearly digital masters to those who were just beginning to explore the ecosystem. Here's a peek at what we learned:
What did Baltimore educators think about the edtech products and companies they saw?
Jenna Shaw, a volunteer and language arts teacher, was pleased to see none of the buyer-seller attitude that pervades other edtech conferences. “There was no set agenda. No formal sessions...This encouraged conversations [and] enabled teachers to sit and talk and share,” she wrote. In fact, teachers pitched more questions at entrepreneurs than they received sales pitches.
"The energy of this day was unlike any event I have attended before, and I would be willing to bet it was because the teachers were allowed to talk," she writes.
Many teachers shared how they had never felt so valued at a professional development event. “I felt so appreciated and pampered while learning about new technology to use in my classroom. My voice seemed to matter,” said Melanie Coates, an English teacher at Catonsville High School.
"There was so much to see, learn and explore yesterday, that it was easier for me to tweet out most of my experiences," reflected Baltimore County Public School library media specialist, Chimere Charles.
The one keynote speaker, Jim Shelton, Acting Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, set the tone for the day
“Today, we want to think about how does innovation fit into day to day life; the life we’re actually leading. Think about how new ideas will fit into schools day in and day out. If it does not get used, it is not innovation, it is just invention. Teachers, you came to do the work of innovation today.”
Lanette Walters, a current teacher and tech integrator in a 1:1 K-5 school, captured Shelton's inspirational talk, noting that “when we get the whole conversation right, it will change everything.” Her conclusion:
"We, the teachers, represent hope."
Entrepreneurs felt appreciated and sometimes challenged by the teachers. "It was fabulous to see educators moving from vendor to vendor, actively engaged, intently taking notes on their own devices, and coming back to me with more and more questions and comments. I was jamming all day long!” says Arjan Khalsa, CEO of Conceptua Math.
Stay tuned to watch EdSurge pull the feedback from the volunteers and share it with the world.