FIELD REPORT - DC EDTECH MEETUP: In its first official meetup, the DC edtech community may have already discovered the magic formula for great dialogue-- heaping mounds of 'ed' with a nice sprinkle of 'tech'. EdSurge's Leonard Medlock was on hand to provide a little west coast perspective and experience the other side of the hot seat with a great set of questions from Katarina Pasinsky, a 6th-grade English teacher in Prince George's County. But the night belonged to the educator panelists who touched on a number of hot button issues from procurement to pedagogy to Common Core.
Here are a few snippets:
- Christian Smith, Financial Director at Baltimore's Imagine Discovery Public Charter School had a great piece of advice for administrators stemming from his own procurement woes. When the time came to replace super-expensive interactive whiteboard lamps, he first went to teachers to see how they were using the technology. The small bit of sleuthing led to a more cost-effective solution (iPads and projectors) that the teachers actually preferred more.
- Jin-Soo Huh, Math Teacher at New Orleans' Collegiate Academies cautioned educators to remember that students are consuming and creating with technology everywhere but school. His take is that "not doing anything with BYOD simply makes school less relevant" in the eyes of students.
- Dr. Anay Abraham de Naranjo, Chief Academic Officer at Springboard After School doubled down on Huh's observation, wisely noting that accelerated technology adoption is integral "especially for poor kids where the language of learning is technology."
- David Pinder, Principal at McKinley Tech HS and DCPS Principal of the Year was a shining example of leadership for technology adoption. In a clever budget play, Pinder increased substitute teacher money eightfold to create more time for teacher PD. Even more impressive is the fact that they didn't actually lose classroom instruction time -- other teachers simply taught via webinar. He also had this hot tip for edupreneurs: "Show me a piece of technology that can train my teachers on how to teach with Common Core, and I'll buy it right now." It's worth noting that McKinley students are 70% free or reduced lunch.
Fahad Hassan, founder at AlwaysPrepped and one of the event's organizer, ended the event with a charge to the audience to take advantage of their close proximity to the federal government. "It's time for a little co-op-etition," he teased with respect to to other edtech hotbeds around the country.