ETC 2007

Last week I attended the second Buffalo State College Educational Technology Conference, held at Erie 1 BOCES. The conference is organized and run by students in the master’s degree program in educational computing at Buff State. It was a fabulous day, offering a wide range of sessions covering many current trends in educational technology. Here is a summary of what I attended:

* Tim Magner Keynote: This is the second time I’ve heard him speak, the first being last November at NYSCATE. His focus both times is on the new global workforce and economy, and what educational technology can/should do to help change the direction and focus of education. He spent much less time on the School2.0 project here at ETC, compared to NYSCATE. I found his presentation much more captivating at NYSCATE as well.

* Digital Video for School News Shows & Class Projects: This presentation was by Amherst Middle School technology teacher Rob Zdrojewski. He presented his excellent AmherstTechTV new show, and also the student projects they do. The core of their program is a product called Visual Communicator. I learned of Rob’s program a couple of years ago when I started looking into news programs for our school. We made a visit to Amherst Middle back then, and have modeled our program after theirs. It was exciting to see the new studio they built – WOW!. I was also extemely excited to learn that the program is being updated and released soon under its new owner, Adobe (beta available now).

* Technology ‘Cast’ing Call: Continuing in my belief that video is one of the keys to great learning, this presentation by Nicole Giambra from Alden covered an array of topics, revolving around getting kids involved in video.

* Online Literature Circles: English teacher Angela Gnann from Niagara Wheatfield did an outstanding presentation on an outstanding project – online literature circles. She, along with the Technology Director and a professor from Canisius, took an “analog” literature circle concept and brought it online. Students in the 9th and 10th grade participated in online lit. circles, and had college educaiton students in the circle as well. The interactions were much greater and meaningful due to the wider circle. Students used images to convey their ideas, and also created digital video quilts to synthesize their learning. POWERFUL, and a true representation of how learning can happen in ways not possible without the technology.

* An Introduction to Second Life: Second Life is getting huge in certain circles, including higher education. I have read a bit about this 3D virtual world, but this was my first time seeing a demo, and talking about the possible educational implications. Some of the big names in educational technology, Will Richardson, David Warlick and Kathy Schrock, are currently investigating second life. As a matter of fact, I just saw at Kathy’s blog that she is presenting in-world at Second Life about K-12 uses. ISTE just published an article on it as well. The presenter, Heather Glogowski from Buffalo State, talked about Buff State’s current initiative to setup a virtual library in Second Life for students to use. From the conversation in the room, Second Life is definitely a bleeding-edge concept for schools – it will take a bit of time for things to develop before successful integration in schools can happen. For me, this was the tipping point to go get an account and try it out.

Overall, I found this to be a rewarding, brain-filling day. Kudos to the students at Buff State who were in charge of the conference, and their advisor, John Thompson.

Check out the Edcuational Computing @ Buffalo State College webpage for more info on their program.