18 Insights From The NYC Schools Tech Summit

NYC Schools Tech Logo FinalThis NYC Schools Tech Summit, which celebrated its 6th year, was a particularly pivotal year for the event with a new venue, new types of sessions, new vendor stations (now with actual room to walk), podcasts, and DeNora Getachew (her bio), the New York City Executive Director of Generation Citizen, as the keynote speaker. All of those new features led to some bumps and confusion in some areas but the check-in and vendor areas were far more organized and efficient than I ever remember them being. In the midst of all of that, there were a number of opportunities for insight. Here were the ones I found most enlightening

For good or for bad, the new chancellor definitely represents major changes on the horizon. If his taking a selfie doesn’t indicate enough of a change in how the administration views the role of technology and social media then the Chancellor Carranza’s many other forays in social media messaging should. Here is a recording of his remarks captured by Lisa Nielsen.

A changing world needs a change in the way we educate children. The chancellor said the world began changing when he graduated in 1984, the year Mark Zuckerberg was born. And we’d learn how social media can lead major events like the Arab Spring. Maybe this means the controversial changes in admissions that I discussed previously. Or maybe it is the new initiatives the Chancellor proposes like investments from education partners.

Quality Education requires investment (but not necessarily in what you think). It’s not the devices that are crucial, but the people. It’s the students, teachers, and families that need support and, while technology can help play a role in that support, it shouldn’t be the determining factor. The Chancellor spoke of creating partnerships with EdTech companies to improve our schools.

The best uses of technology are transformative. Technology should be bringing us to new heights and providing us access to insights and opportunities we couldn’t have otherwise attained. That can be building ships to fly us into space or computers to solve the equations to take us there. It is giving access and a voice to those who would otherwise be limited by circumstances. It is about opening us up to new ideas to explore and create for the future and to create a more equitable and engaging present.

Making promises to improve the network is always good for an applause. So there are promises that the DOE is in the process of upgrading an aged infrastructure system to carry 240 GB of data by the end of school year and improved fiber layer for schools as well.

The DOE really wants your feedback. They seem to genuinely want to know what you think about the new DOE website or how DIIT handles tech management whether it is positive or negative. Granted the new site was created to be parent-facing, but they seem to be committed at least to hearing concerns in an effort to continue improving. They have set up alternative sites for teachers and other topics. Check out the cheat sheet.

We have to be willing to see things from new perspectives. It’s easy to get locked into our roles and not consider the ideas and rationale of others. Take a minute and consider how parents, students, or the community may view your choices.

Teens can be mature enough to facilitate their own future success. The story of and her son is the story of a teen taking control of her own narrative. It’s about bucking statistics and stereotypes to breed success and personal empowerment where a 16-year-old can launch an advocacy campaign and go to a new and better school even when pregnant.

Young people aren’t showing up and engaging in democracy because we’re not engaging them in it. The statistics about youth engagement in voting and their community are dismal but it’s to be expected when they’ve been shown a system in which they have no sense of purpose or power. We need to do better.

Teaching government shouldn’t be about teaching facts but about teaching students to affect change and improve their communities. Engaging students in government and civic action is about facilitating change not memorizing info that you could Google.

Real civic engagement is active. Real civics should demonstrate to students how they can be empowered to change their community. We must engage students to be proactive digital learners to empower them to change their communities for the better.

Engaging students in civics is an ongoing process and it exists on a spectrum of increasing engagement. We should guide our students away from slacktivism to genuinely engaging in their communities akin to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Students know the issues that are important to them and want to address them. Issues like police brutality, affordable housing, gun violence, neighborhood safety, and access to healthy foods are important, and we need to take their concerns into account

Students need to be are of what their digital image is. It is essential that students remain positive digital citizens and know that their online presence will impact their future.

It is important to help students differentiate between valid and false information. Media literacy is crucial, especially in our current state.

TImage result for the digital dividehe digital divide is real. In the world of technology resources in education, there are the haves and have-nots and we need to do our part to bring equity to student understanding even if it doesn’t exist in terms of resources.

A community of like-minded learners can help you achieve more. A powerful PLN that educates and encourages each other, like in the GEG meetups, raises the level of everyone.

It’s important to celebrate success. We don’t give out awards only to make unappreciated educators know that their efforts don’t go unnoticed, but also to show others what is possible and where we should all strive.

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