What a Weekend at the GAFE Summit Reminded Me…

What a Weekend at the GAFE Summit Reminded Me…

I was one of the lucky Ontario Educators who attended the EdTech Team’s Google Apps for Education Summit in Kitchener this past weekend.  Heading into the weekend I was excited.  I had heard from many people who attended last year just how mind blowing and informative the conference could be.  I also was concerned it wouldn’t live up to the standards set for me by last year’s On The Rise K- 12 conference I attended, or by Bring IT Together 14 that I attended in the fall.  Well I can say for certain that #gafesummit did not disappoint!

As promised, I learned so much my head actually hurt.  As an enthusiastic technology learner and sharer, I was blown away by the amount of tips and tricks I didn’t know.  I am actively exploring the new sites, apps, extensions and add-ons I’ve learned about, hoping to find ways to use them and if I can’t, to find others who I know can.

Today, spending the day discussing how technology can enrich classrooms with other educators I recognized the overwhelmed looks and the need for time to let it all sink in.  There are so many great tools at our disposal that sometimes we have no idea where to begin.

This brings me to another key point.  Technology has the potential to transform learning for our students, but it must be used for the right reasons.  Simply deciding to dive in, to explore apps, tools and useful websites is great, but knowing what you are looking for is important.  As you plan your lessons and assessments, ask yourself, what do I want my students to learn?  How do I want demonstrate their learning?  Then comes the technology question;   What is the best tool for the job?

I have a gatherer approach my technology learning.  I want to know about all the good stuff that is out there so when the time comes to help students learn, I can pick the right tool to help get the job done.  Others only want to learn one tool at a time, to become proficient at it before moving on.  Whatever your style, let the technology enrich the learning, don’t make the learning fit the technology.

As you continue on your path of learning, don’t hesitate to reach out to others you see doing wonderful things.  Although sometimes shy and fearful in front of others, teachers tend to feel quite comfortable talking about success stories.  Watching teachers eyes light up when they have discovered something somewhat magical that improves student learning is inspiring in itself.  These opportunities to learn from others are golden and sometimes, the best answers to your questions are closer than they appear!