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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Creative technology in today's classrooms: a panel proposal

From my panel proposal for the 2017 NYC Games For Change festival:

Abstract:

Educational games, edutainment and office tools have formed the bulk of schoolchildren's exposure to computers in the classroom. But what about creative expression? We'll hear from teachers and technologists about the approaches, tools and curricula they're using to unleash broad expression, and share examples of the expressive work students are creating when they are released from digital constraints.

Background:

The number one question I get from teachers when discussing my work is, what tools can they use in their classroom today that students will engage with enthusiastically?

Some of the most popular digital classroom tools, such as websites that introduce brief coding problems or digital robot toys, are unquestionably compelling and engaging, but also greatly limit the role of the student as a producer of creative work.

When students are faced with the sort of blank page typical in art class, their creativity flowers broadly, and they explore unexpected areas of their interests and discover new creative passions.

But for teachers, technologists and parents, this sort of green field creative format can be daunting and uncertain, and can require greater preparatory knowledge and research.

Key questions:

How are teachers finding out about these approaches and tools? Are they working in classrooms? What kind of work are students creating? How can that work be assessed? What are the pedagogical theories and evidence that support a creative and expressive approach to exploring technology in the classroom?

Takeaways:

We'll share stories from the front, examples of student work, projects and units which succeeded beyond our wildest dreams and ones that crashed and burned in the face of the realities of student engagement and assessment. Attendees, whether educators, technologists, students, parents, or just interested parties, will walk away with a deeper understanding of how student creativity is being engaged and unleashed by expressive digital tools, and how to use that knowledge immediately in their own work.

Presentation experience:

I have taught in numerous capacities over the past decade, both as a college instructor, an elementary subject teacher, and a private teacher of groups of children age 4-12. I was also a conference organizer and host for the presidential administration of the nation of Georgia in 2005-6, and a regular speech giver in an NYC chapter of Toastmasters. I recently conducted a 5-day workshop for New York public school teachers through the NYC DoE's CS4All program.

My panelists would be drawn from seasoned classroom teachers, established educational programs such as ScriptEd, Startup Institute and Code/Interactive, and veterans of the educational software industry with speaking experience.

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