On August 17, Pleasanton ISD hosted its first ever Technology Symposium.
The morning began with keynote speaker Lori Gracey, Executive Director of the Texas Computer Education Association, at the Performing Arts Center. She presented “The Future is NOW” to PISD teachers, an informative and also entertaining presentation highlighting technology trends and how it relates to teaching.
“Gracey was phenomenal and she presented some realities to us that we don’t just quite fathom,” said Pleasanton ISD Superintendent Mann.
Gracey presented eyeopening facts, such as that 65 percent of current grade school Generation Z students (those born in the mid-1990s to 2010) will work in jobs that do not exist today. She also spoke on face recognition software, privacy issues and technology such as clothing that never gets dirty, driverless transportation in so many areas of our lives, fast food chains in which the only employees are robots and more.
She told the audience of educators not to panic. She said it is about preparing for the world and changing how we teach.
At the Sympsoium, Region 20 experts and Microsoft reps were also brought in.
After Gracey’s presentation, the day continued with 45-minute break-out session held at the Pleasanton Elementary School. Some of the topics included, “Cyber Security 101,” “Coding in your Classroom” and more.
“We received many compliments on that. The majority of the presenters were actually teachers and educators in the district. We had quite a few of our media specialists/librarians. They have become media center experts now. They really have become experts in computers and makerspaces and 3-D printers, all of these kinds of additional technology,” said Dr. Mann.
“I went into a presentation with Mrs. Dickinson and Mrs. Moos. They had the 3-D glasses set-up that creates 3-D videos for students, where they can see this different type of content in an interactive way.”
Mann explained that the event came out of their effort to support the SAMR Model, which stands for Substitution Augmentation Modification and Redefinition to help implement technology in the classroom at deeper levels, to enhance student engagement.
He said a good way to think of it is substituting one thing for another. For example, taking a test online instead of with pencil and paper.
For example, a group of PHS students did a lesson in Algebra. They videotaped it, explaining how to use Algebra blocks.
“That in itself is using technology now to do an augmentation. The students were doing it- it wasn’t teacher-directed. Then they placed the video online,” Mann said.
This resulted in feedback with suggestions, morphing into impacting others on a global level. That is the redefinition they are looking for.
“Our students are wanting that. They understand that world and we have to be ready to help them navigate that safely. We have to make sure that digital citizenship is in place and we are navigating the Internet safely.”
Students need to learn the impact of putting information out there that can never be taken back, as well as cyber-bullying, password safety, etc.
“We have an obligation and a responsibility to help them navigate that world, just like we would crossing the street. They need to look both ways.”
Mann also explained, “One of the things that we targeted as an area of importance and priority is the network. We felt as if we had to have a network system that is not only reliable, but also has the speed in which to be able to stay up to date with the software and the things that we are running. Even all of your office software is all web-based, even the attendance, all of the reporting. It is not just impacting classrooms. It is also office spaces, support staff, all of those things. That software gets updated and it gets faster and it needs the best operating system. We have to be mindful of that.”
He later added, “We just have to keep knowing that this is going to be a reoccurring expense and that we have to make sure that we allocate funds for that and don’t get behind.”
Research shows that often we make the initial investment into the hardware, but we don’t make the additional investment in the training.
“This is a way we felt we could bring in experts, but also highlight the experts we have in house,” said Dr. Mann.
He would like to continue hosting the Technology Symposium, which was a big hit.
At the Convocation event held after the Technology Symposium, Dr. Mann recognized all staff that presented, helped or worked at the Technology Symposium.
He also thanked the Pleasanton ISD Board of Trustees for their ongoing support of the initiative, by allocating the needed resources to give PISD students the skills and exposure to technology that will allow them to be successful.