What I Learned at RIDE Technology Conference 2013

What I Learned at RIDE Technology Conference 2013

This past weekend I had the joy of attending the RIDE Technology Conference in Providence, RI. In addition to the amazing experience of being able to mingle with 750 like-minded educators, technology professionals, edTech entrepreneurs, and being able to present as part of the EdSurge edTech Start Up project; I got to experience something that made the day even better.

Red Bird at the RIDE Technology Conference

What could be better you ask?

Listening to students ranging from ages 6-18 talk about how they use technology, what they like, what they dislike, and how technology is not always the answer.

During the lunch hour at the conference we got to hear a powerful keynote presentation from Travis Allen, the founder and CEO of the iSchool Initiative. He shared his incredible story of being reprimanded for using technology (his smart phone) in school to take notes, and how that sparked his journey to reach out via a youtube video. This simple action started his journey of being one of the largest advocates for technology in the classroom, 1to1 student to device ratios, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) educational policies, and ready and available connectivity in schools. While his story was powerful, moving, and motivational, what I found to be even more insightful was what he did next; he brought up 6 students ranging from 1st grade through freshman in college to discuss how technology has both impacted their education and lives at large.

When I listened to the students share their views, it was refreshing to see and hear how they view technology, and what works for them. After all was said and done, I distilled all of their amazing answers down to my top three points from the students.

1) Technology is amazing, but it is not the solution to everything!

It was refreshing to hear students discuss how they preferred to take notes, and organize their thoughts. While some preferred to use a smart phone, others preferred a laptop, a favorite app, and some even choose paper and pen.

Listening to the rich discussion, and hearing students discuss the pros and cons of technology and learning styles was insightful to say the least. While all the students on the panel were clearly pro-tech, they still strongly valued analog devices, and the simplicity of non-tech related solutions.

2) Providing open, available Internet connectivity to students provides them with the opportunity to access information and succeed.

Students discussed how they use the internet, how they conducted research, and how they did it responsibly. With open access to the internet, they were less tempted to zone out, visit sites that were not on target with the task at hand, truly engaged in learning at a higher level. They reported that with the knowledge that it was there, and readily available, recreational technology usage could happen during non-class time.

3) We are all on this ride together.

When asked what was their least favorite part, or most frustrating thing about technology, all students responded with something about crashing, losing work, or failed connectivity.

While we make leaps and bounds in the tech world everyday, we are all on this ride together, and we all get to experience the downside of technology too.

So with these takeaways, I ask you:

What are your favorite and least favorite things about technology?

Leave a comment and tell us what you think, and what you hope to see in the future of edTech.

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