AR, AI and robotics, oh, my!

Educator track highlights from FETC®
By: | January 16, 2020
Dwight Carter of the Eastland Career Center in Ohio presented “Tips for Teaching Generation Z.”Dwight Carter of the Eastland Career Center in Ohio presented “Tips for Teaching Generation Z.”

With hundreds of sessions to choose from, FETC® attendees choosing the Educator track probably felt the need for a clone (or two or three). Hot topics included augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, digital teaching tools, esports, and MakerEd/robotics—all highlighting technology-based best practices that boost capacity for educators and staff.  

On Tuesday, three educators from Scheck Hillel Community Day School explored robotics in the “Robots We Love, Why, and What We Learn With Them” workshop. It covered the need to strategically integrate robotics into instruction in meaningful ways. Some examples presented were using the technology in social studies with map skills, integrating robots with word study, and using robotics in teaching and assessment of Hebrew/Judaic studies. Attendees got hands-on time with robots to learn how they work. 

In Thursday’s “Solving Problems in Local, Global and Digital Communities in AR” workshop, educators spent time exploring how students are using global goals to make a positive impact on society. DigCitCommit competencies in digital citizenship—being inclusive, informed, engaged, balanced and alert—were introduced as a way to get students of today (and leaders of tomorrow) using augmented reality. Jaime Donally of the #AVVRinEDU community led the session, with input and sharing from technology integrator Deann Poleon and Marialice B.F.X. Curran, founder and executive director of the Digital Citizenship Institute. Attendees used CoSpaces EDU to learn how AR-based classroom assignments are created and executed. 

Educators were treated to big-picture thought leadership sessions, as well. “Tips for Teaching Generation Z” on Thursday covered how technology accessibility has resulted in the needs of students being different today than ever. Dwight Carter of the Eastland Career Center in Ohio offered practical tips for engaging and understanding today’s students, creating deeper connections with them, and improving instruction. 

For example, educators must realize that learning can go beyond the classroom. “That’s probably just 50% of the real estate in the school,” said Carter. Hallways, the gymnasium and the cafeteria are just a few spaces that could be used for teaching and learning. Direct instruction, he advised, should be in short, meaningful segments to account for short attention spans. 

At Thursday’s “Artificial Intelligence in Education: What Do We Need To Know?” session, attendees learned about various implications of AI for the future of learning and work. Presenter Rachelle Dene Poth, president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network, shared several ideas and tools that can be used to engage and empower students.

Melissa Ezarik is senior managing editor of DA.

For all FETC® coverage, click here.

Interested in edtech? Keep up with DA's Future of Education Technology Conference®.