Embrace pandemic innovations, follow the money, focus on teachers. Plus: Pasta at Vito’s!
Spent the weekend staring at snow and digesting notes from Orlando:
First and foremost, it was GREAT to be back! Never would I have imagined feeling emotional about the Orange County Convention Center. All it took was a global pandemic I guess. Second, while I am hopeful many things will go back to how they were BP (Before Pandemic), many conversations made it clear there is plenty that shouldn’t go back to normal AP (After Pandemic).
Al Kingsley CEO of Net Support and author of the recent book My Secret EdTech Diary shared some insights on what he sees as best next steps with our collective COVID pivots:
“There's always that perception that some of the tools that allow, for example, remote working, will have a negative effect on productivity. Actually, there's lots of efficiency to be gained. Those same tools can be used to try and support wellbeing, reduce workload, reduce commuting, save time…There's been some really huge benefits with the technology we've put in place for parental engagement and community engagement. But we haven't yet captured how we make the time to actually allow people to get the most from it. And I think that conversation is just as relevant in the corporate setting as it is in an education setting.”
I was able to tackle industry guru Tom Murray for a hot minute, who reiterated what I took to be the most popular question in vendor halls and post-show receptions—What about the money?
“One of the things that I really wanna focus on is avoiding the fiscal cliff that is bound to happen in about three years right now. As you know, districts are getting incredible amounts or will be coming soon, incredible amounts of federal funds. And when we take a look, one of my biggest concerns in this area right now, is the sustainability of it. Districts need the money. They will absolutely take the money, but as they continue to invest more and more in ed tech each year, the sustainability question for me has to be the foundation. We don't wanna be laying off teachers three or four years from now because we hit this fiscal cliff when the money dries up.”
And, yes, there were some actual educators on hand! Although Jeni Long and Sallee Clark, aka #jenalee, are also international speakers, EdTech consultants, bloggers, and authors. They currently serve as Instructional Technologists with Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD in Texas. Their take:
(Jeni) Some teachers might have some PTSD right now, trying to recover. But now that we're catching our breath, we're also seeing the beauty of technology and really finding intricate ways to put it into our classes. And it's more intentional because we understand how it works and the value of it and making sure that we're using it in the best way possible to maximize student work. So I think it's going to make ed tech intentional. (Sallee) I'm excited to see teachers gravitating toward that fun aspect again. Like they're really starting to just have fun with learning and, and making their lessons engaging. And we love that.
Now for some nitty-gritty product news:
Galaxy Next Generation, Inc. launched it’s self-branded classroom audio solution, G2 LINK. G2 LINK is a Classroom Audio System that enhances teacher communication and student engagement in the classroom and throughout the school community.
The system gives teachers access to the front office for normal daily communication and can also initiate a campus wide emergency alert, all from a button on their teacher microphone which is worn around the neck and is with the teacher at all times.
SchoolStatus announced the launch of its new Video Chat feature, providing a 1:1 platform for visual learning or conversations between educators and parents or students. SchoolStatus Video Chat, enables educators to communicate with parents through picture-in-picture video, launched directly through text or email, without the need to download a separate video application. Additionally, the chat details are automatically logged and the video recording is available directly from the SchoolStatus student record for future reference.
SMART Technologies announced new interactive displays that will include these new and updated features:
Integrated microphone array: providing high-quality audio capture for clear sound in any learning environment
NFC login: allowing teachers to log in with the tap of a card for simple, fast and secure access to their personalized setup
Industry-leading upgradability: ability to upgrade over-the-air to Android 11, meaning investments made today with available funding will not require additional spend from schools to maintain top-of-the-line functionality in the future
zSpace, Inc. and Mastery Coding™ announced a new partnership to bring the full suite of Mastery Coding's computer science, academic esports, and STEM curriculum to the hundreds of thousands of teachers and students who utilize zSpace's AR/VR interactive technology.
What did I miss? What were your takeaways? Drop them in the comments!
Last but certainly not least Orlando’s legendary steakhouse is back in business after 20 months! Their pandemic pivot? Pasta is now served for the first time, in a style only Vito’s can serve. Next week? DLAC in Atlanta and TCEA in Dallas. All restaurant recommendations and big ideas welcome!
Galaxy Next Generation is really onto something with their G2 Link technology. Anything that enhances communication in general, and with students specifically who often times have trouble hearing the teacher is a great asset. The security aspect, with the ability to immediately notify the entire school/campus of an emergency, as well as law enforcement from what I've read, is exactly what is needed to restore a safer learning environment, as well as quell the fright and anxiety teachers and students experience just entering and occupying the school building. Without security and a sense that you are safe and sound, teaching and learning is completely compromised and more of a burden than the joyful, essential experience it should be. I just love the products and ideas this company is coming up with during these trying times!