Chocolate and Educational Technology Unite!

Report from the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference: the use of technology is increasing in schools across Pennsylvania

Hundreds of educators, school administrators, vendors, and “ed-techies” recently descended on Hershey, PA to network, learn about educational technology, and eat lots of chocolate!

Glassy-eyed teachers were wandering around the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C), apparently experiencing “information overload”. Others were bouncing off the walls, fueled by the constant stream of chocolate, coffee, and new technology discoveries.

Volunteers for the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications & Technology (PAECT) did a great job helping people connect and find the information they needed in the Social Networking Lounge. Being a member of PAECT has enriched my learning as well as helped make valuable connections with people not only across PA but nationally. For readers working at the intersection of education and technology, I urge you to check out all that PAECT has to offer and join!

Aaron Sams from the Flipped Learning Network delivered a much-applauded keynote address. Flipped learning is a emerging trend in education that involves students watching videotaped lectures as “homework,” and then using in-class time for active problem solving and one-to-one or small group tutoring with the teacher.

In spite of enthusiastic support of flipped learning, most of the conference sessions were in the usual “sage on the stage” format where the presenter lectured. My challenge for next year’s conference is to turn the mic over to groups of teachers, developers, makers, and learners for larger group sessions to share and discuss what matters most to them and their students. If you agree, contact the conference organizers here!

I discovered that funding for educational technology is more of an issue than most of us realize. Sadly enough, there is no dedicated federal funding for education technology and education technology professional learning. Find out more and how you can advocate by visiting the EdTEch Action Network.

To see some of what you missed if you didn’t attend the conference:

  • Read through the lively backchannel by doing a Twitter search on the conference hashtag (#petec13)
  • Check out the Wordle on the Edupunk blog, it reveals trending technology-related topics among PA educators. As an advocate of game-based learning, I’m sad to see that the word “game” is conspicuously missing.
  • Watch Zee Ann Poerio’s super-creative visual recap of the conference.

Conferences like PETE&C definitely help get appropriate technologies into the hands of teachers and into classrooms, with the ultimate goal of improving education for our children.

Still, it seems that technology is moving outside the classroom faster than inside. Is that a bad thing? I think so! How can we enable students to use more of the digital tools and devices they are already so connected with outside the classroom to enhance their learning inside the classroom?!

Organizations such as ISTE, PAECT, and iNACOL all advocate for using technology in the classroom. In the U.S., education is primarily under local jurisdiction. Get involved in shaping your own school district’s ed-tech roadmap to ensure their plans reflect the values of your community!

Nikki Navta is the CEO of Zulama, a company that helps schools implement game programming, app development., and design thinking into their curriculum. Connect with her at and on Twitter at ZulamaLearn.

Published March 01, 2013