My students already know that I am a tremendous nerd, but since it is a crucial piece of context, I thought I'd start with that. When I was told that I was going to a conference on Hybridity in Miami and an EdTech fair in Madrid, I couldn't shut up for about three days (fine, more than that, whatever). This was also going to be my first visit to the US, so the level of excitement was unbelievable.
Our Academic Director had the pleasure of taking care of my flu-ridden self on the trip to Miami, and of making sure I wasn't put into quarantine at customs. I would like to take this opportunity to thank her once again for taking such great care of me. I realise that it's never a good time to have the flu, but in terms of inconvenience, this was a personal best. I'll skip over the combined pleasures of travelling with 'flu and getting through security, and tell you about the wonderful hotel and amazing people at the conference.
We were wonderfully taken care of, and the conference itself exceeded my expectations. The format of the conference encouraged interaction and discussion, making it a great networking and learning experience. There were interactive presentations and informal discussions, as well as a competition that was a lot of fun and very successful in its objectives.
It was great to have the chance to talk to people from other universities in the Laureate network, and to hear about the implementation of different technologies at their institutions, particularly since we realised how much technology has already been successfully implemented at Les Roches Marbella. We talked to other teachers, instructional designers, media creation specialists, market researchers, experts on everything from assessment standards to online methodology and academic research. In other words, we needed a few weeks just to process everything we had heard, which was just in time for my trip to Madrid.
While the conference had mainly focused on teaching and learning methodology, the fair's focus was clearly on hardware and software solutions. It was a nerdy teacher's dream: 3D scanners, 3D printers, interactive screens and projectors, learning platforms, assessment tools, etc. I had the most amazing time trying out as many of these tools and solutions as I could, and thinking about how I could use them in class.
The possibilities are endless, and at some point, in both Miami and Madrid, I couldn't help but feel a little overwhelmed. How on earth am I going to keep track of all this? How is any teacher supposed to keep track of all this?
The answer is obvious: with help. Everyone's. Academic leadership, colleagues, and students. I was delighted to see that one of my favourite subjects was once again in the spotlight: communication. Interestingly, this has been one of the fields with the most technological advances, yet it is still one of the most problematic for humans. All the same, I think it is key to efficiently navigating this sea of possibilities.
We have a chance to put our communication skills to good use, and to get feedback on the most efficient use of technology in each classroom. Quantitative studies are a great source of information on general trends, which allow for the design of ever more efficient systems. However, in order to determine the best use of technology in the actual classroom, each specific one, regardless of whether it is face to face or online, we need more qualitative feedback and we all need to participate.
My students will say the saw this coming. Yes, there's homework, and yes, it requires some effort 🙂 Nevertheless, we will all benefit so much from this. Offer suggestions, constructive criticism – making sure empathy and diplomacy are put to good use, of course. When you find something that helps you learn – an app, tool, source, or whatever – share it! Individually, we may not be able to find every educational gem, but together, we can make the most of our educational experience.