The Ohio Educational Technology Conference (OETC) in Columbus, Ohio is always one of the highlights of the year. From the engaging sessions, the buzzing exhibit floor, to the riveting keynotes, there’s always something new to learn! This year, the majority of the Forward Edge team attended OETC and we walked away with several key takeaways worth sharing:
- Digital Citizenship is the New Citizenship
As schools continue to add devices, promote collaboration, and provide access to a variety of digital tools, it’s paramount that students are taught how to respect and protect themselves online. No matter what subject area or grade level we teach, our students’ well-being depends on their ability to navigate and interact in online worlds. OETC highlighted several tools that can help fulfill this educational responsibility, and clearly, everyone plays a role in fostering a safe environment (both online and in-person) for students. For more useful tools- check out our webinar on Digital Citizenship aligned to ISTE Standards.
2. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality: Educational Innovations Here to Stay
What used to be impossible is now a reality with the AR/VR technology available today. Although travel can be costly and time-consuming, virtual reality enables access to amazing, enriching experiences for students and teachers. Multiple OETC sessions and exhibit booths focused on the emerging power of virtual reality and how it can help students learn and explore. As schools continue to add tools that support virtual reality, it’s our job as educators to embrace this new avenue of engagement and make AR/VR a reality in our classroom. Sign up for our upcoming webinar to learn the latest trends and tools in the world of virtual reality.
3. Educators Must Enhance Student Voice
Continuing the trend from the ISTE conference in San Antonio, OETC presenters emphasized the value of student voice and student agency in the classroom. Along with featuring several digital tools that help foster student voice, many of the sessions highlighted practical instructional strategies that amplify student voice. For our students to be successful, develop critical thinking, and be creative, educators must provide outlets for students to genuinely express themselves.
4. Ohio’s Partnership with Future Ready Schools
Ohio has officially partnered with Future Ready Schools in an effort to personalize student learning. This framework can transform districts by empowering teachers and leaders, allowing students to take charge of their learning, and supporting a more personalized approach to ensuring readiness for all students. What an exciting development!
5. It’s Not About the Tool; It’s About the Practice
It’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of a cool, new digital tool that wows us with its features and functionality. The truth is, however, digital tools are just that…tools. A digital tool that is overused, used incorrectly, or used by an unskilled teacher is ineffective. OETC presenters continued to remind attendees that thoughtful, targeted teaching is the most effective method to increase student achievement. Although digital tools can help teachers accomplish their goals, they’re only effective when paired with great instructional practice.
6. Cybersecurity: We Can’t Stick Our Heads in the Sand
Cybersecurity is a real threat, especially as devices in schools become more common. Phishing attacks are occurring on a daily basis, they continue to get more and more sophisticated and can lure even the savviest users to click on links or follow steps to fall deeper into the attacker’s trap. Express caution when you receive an email from a source you know but it seems suspicious. Contact that source with a new email, rather than just hitting reply – rather than clicking a link in an email, go directly to the bank or retailer’s website and access the section you need.
Malware and Spyware have come back on the scene, and schools aren’t immune! It’s more important than ever for schools to ensure that they are up to date on operating system patches, antivirus software, maintaining backups of important data, and keeping a watchful eye for software that shouldn’t be on their pcs and servers. Even districts that are largely Chrome or Mac OS are not immune to these threats!