VALPARAISO | Hundreds of area educators gathered at Valparaiso High School this week to learn how they can use technology to better meet the needs of today's students.
The eVisionary Technology Conference on Wednesday and Thursday drew more than 500 teachers and administrators from elementary, middle schools and high schools throughout Northwest Indiana.
Beth Krutz, principal of Central Elementary School in Valparaiso and conference coordinator, said while most students are comfortable using technology, teachers can help them use it appropriately and become responsible “digital citizens.”
Effectively using technology in the classroom requires a change in mindset for many teachers, Krutz said.
It's not enough to have students look up and memorize information on the Internet, she said. Rather, it's important for teachers to use the new digital tools to foster innovation, collaboration and creative learning opportunities.
“We have to teach differently to meet the needs of 21st century learners,” Krutz said.
Valparaiso is one of 17 school districts in the state hosting technology conferences. It was funded by a grant of $15,000 from the Indiana Department of Education.
Highlights included keynote speeches by Leslie Fisher, director of California-based Fisher Technologies Inc., and George Couros, a principal of innovative teaching and learning with Parkland School Division in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada.
Educators chose from a wide range of seminar topics including Learning with the iPad, Apple TV in the Classroom, Digital Photography 101, Social Networking, Digital Citizenship, Gadgets, Twitter, the Networked Educator and Flipped Learning.
“There's something for everybody here,” Krutz said.
One of the newer concepts in education is known as flipped learning, where teachers provide lesson content through video for students to review at home, leaving more time in the classroom for interaction and discussion.
Getting students involved in hands-on, interactive activities is key to helping them learn not just during school hours but become lifelong learners, Krutz said.
Teachers also were encouraged to use technology to spur collaborative learning and sharing of information among students, and to move away from the old model of teachers being the sole providers of information.
It's important for teachers to stay on top of the rapidly changing technology and to be aware of the impact it is having on students. For example, most young children today have never seen a rotary phone, Krutz said.
“That's how fast it's changing, and we need to be ready for it,” she said.