SXSWedu: Wednesday Recap

TinyEye Interview

[Wednesday] I started my morning with a really interesting session called A Narrative of Schools Through Data about crossing the digital threshold. Rob Mancabelli started his lecture by making light of the overused term “21st century Learning”. He said that 21st century learning shouldn’t be about spending millions of dollars on “digital stuff”, but actually learning how to implement the technology into teaching. He talked about how difficult it is for a teacher who was a 20th century learner to teach a 21st century class. And he compared that  teacher to a swimming instructor, who doesn’t know how to swim, and is trying to teach their students to swim. He also told us a story about an eighth grader who uses a Facebook group and Khan to understand her math homework, but didn’t want her school to find out because she is afraid they might force her to stop using those resources. I thought this session was really interesting and eye opening. I don’t think any student should have to be afraid of their school taking away their resources that they use to learn. Schools should not be afraid of technology, but they should encourage their students to use their resources. I think this story is a perfect example of why schools need to “cross the divide” to 21st century learning and teaching.

After this amazing session, my group and I went and checked out the different lounges that were available. We stopped by several of the conference lounges, including the Compass Learning Social Media Lounge. Every lounge offered samples of their newest and proudest products as well as representatives who were very kind, helpful, and wanted to engage in interesting conversation. During this time we also visited the Playground, which is an area where different companies set up booths and talked to people about their company and what they are about.

During our lunch time, at the Compass Learning Social Media Lounge, we got to interview Greg Sutton with TinyEye, who uses Double Robot to help kids with Speech Therapy. Double Robot sells these robots and they are used in schools when a school cannot get an expert into their classroom. The expert can be anywhere in the world and use this app on any Apple device to talk through this robot to the students on the other side of the world.

To top off the day, we got to see Wendy Davis interviewed by Linda Lorelle. Senator Davis had a lot of amazing things to say about education in Texas. She touched on big topics like teacher salary, financial forgiveness, standardized testing, and dual credit programs. She said that “it’s time for Texas to start respecting their teachers” and pay them a salary that matches that of teachers in other states. She also said that students who graduate in the top 20% of their class and teach in Texas should be given financial loan forgiveness. Wendy Davis was part of the team who decreased the number of standardized testing to 5 from 15. She wants to reduce the negative impact these tests have in the classroom and on the teachers. Senator Davis believes that if they better train the teachers then the result in the classroom will be better. She talked about rewarding the teachers who are being innovative in the classroom with technology. She ended her very engaging session by saying that she is a fighter and she will fight for Texas public education and she cannot support anymore cuts to the budget for Texas Education.

I really loved when she said “Where you start should not have anything to do with how far you go!” This session really empowered me. It is people like Wendy Davis who give me hope for our future generations. I am not sure what her entire platform is, but her view on public education in Texas is spot on and I wish more people in power shared it with her. During certain points in this session it seemed as if Wendy Davis was speaking directly to high school students and I almost wanted to stand up and tell her that “We are here! We are listening!” and “Keep doing what you are doing because it is what we want in our classrooms.”

Overall, I feel like we had a really fun and constructive day. I am really grateful for SXSWedu and Compass Learning for helping us to get here and have our voices heard.

Cheranity is a student at Del Valle High School. She attended and reported on SXSWedu as a Compass Learning student correspondent.

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