By Elizabeth Marion

What's the big ideaMy first day at Computer Explorers began coincidentally on the first day of the ISTE Conference. Several thousand educators converged in the city of San Diego, including myself. ISTE 2012 was a wonderful way to set sail in a new position and included days of learning, networking, and fun.  During the conference, I was provided with the opportunity to connect with peers, learn the latest trends in educational technology, and hear from some key educational leaders throughout the world.


A few weeks later, I attended another event, TED, in Sugarland, TX where we met to experience the power of ideas.  Here are a few ideas gleaned from the two events:


Critical Thinking


One of the most inspiring presenters at TED was Javier Fernandex Han, a high school inventor. Javier started inventing at age seven and has been doing robotics for ten years. The astute teenager stressed the importance of using critical examination and different viewpoints when making decisions.


When students are given opportunities to gather, analyze, and synthesize information from resources other than the teacher, new knowledge is constructed and passions are developed.




Sir Ken Robinson led a panel discussion at ISTE. He suggested the need for individuated instruction to create learning environments that foster the creativity and passion in students.


Another highlight at ISTE was keynote, Yong Zhao, author, presidential chair and associate dean for global education at the University of Oregon. Dr. Zhao emphasized the need for creativity and entrepreneurship in the new global economy. He believes the key to cultivating talent in the classroom does not rely on standardized test scores but rather on the development of technology skills and entrepreneurial talents.


“Technology” is Here to Stay


At the  both the ISTE and TED Conference, there were several references to how technology has transformed the way we communicate, especially through the use of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.


Classroom use of iPads, Android tablets, and cell phones are ideal for creating a personalized experience to engage learners and increase the likelihood of individualized instruction with technology.


Marc Prensky coined the term “digital native” and spoke at the ISTE Conference. Marc is an advocate of student-centered learning and believes technology has the potential to provide greater opportunities for communication, a stronger sense of motivation and a broader perspective about the world to students.


Technology has many definitions. Someone once noted, it’s not technology if it was around when you were born. We can agree on the fact that we are in a new age, where technology is ubiquitous.



So, What’s the BIG Idea?


There is a big emphasis on individualized instruction, creativity and finding students’ passion. Effective use for technology is paramount to cultivating the motivation and passion of students. The ability to harness that passion will be determined and driven by educators, industrial leaders and businesses and the adults who lead those businesses. Today, I read about  a seventeen year-old student from New Jersey who invented a cellphone device that tests hearts. Her invention provides a cost-effective method to tests heart rhythms of people in underdeveloped countries.  That’s a big deal!!

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