A “Digital Playground for Teachers” Opens Today in Pittsburgh

A new hub for teachers is designed to help them learn about how best to integrate digital media into the classroom.

Today is the second annual Digital Learning Day. All across the country, kids and teachers are tinkering with robots; using apps to explore the sun, moon, and the stars; and diving headlong into some very cool projects that showcase how digital media, well applied, can spark learning and imaginations.

Here in Pittsburgh, the Center for Creativity is launching TransformED, a new 1,500 square foot space at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit Central Office. The site is designed to transform how teachers think about digital media and offer hands-on examples of innovative ways to use digital media in the classroom.

The site—the first of its kind in the country—will host workshops for teachers and offer a range of digital tools to experiment with. Think of it as a new form of professional development. After all, why should kids have all the fun when it comes to digital media and creativity?

The organizers are considering events such as conversations around augmented reality in the classroom; discussions on badges in education; workshops on tablets in the math curriculum; and video conferences with national practitioners.

The space will have iPads, Chromebooks, Hummingbird robotics kits, Arduino, Gigapan cameras, Nook tablets, Macbook Air laptops, Design Board, and Apple TV. And perhaps the biggest draw—a 3D printer.  Check out this article in EnGadget about some innovative uses in classrooms. Or as one teacher on the blog Science Teaching Tools wrote:

As well as being completely hypnotic to watch, it is great fun to assemble or build such systems as well as presenting an awesome hands-on learning opportunity.  In ways similar to conventional machining skills, 3D printing uses spatial thinking skills, budget and planning skills (read: executive function, great for ADHD students), and design skills.  It’s an all-around way to educate students in ways that are critical to industry.  In fact, many of the major industries in the US and around the world now use 3D printing regularly.  Car companies, aircraft manufacturers, and others rely on 3D printing to make parts for which there never were 3D drawings or for which structural integrity is not critical.

As Rosanne Javorsky, assistant director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit told us earlier this week, “We want to help teachers and educators rediscover their passion for teaching and learning, and increase their exposure to new technology.”

The space will be open today from 9:15 a.m. to noon, and from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the AIU’s Central Office, 475 East Waterfront Drive, Homestead, but if you can’t make it, check out this quick video introduction to transformED.

Published February 06, 2013