This morning marks the beginning of Texas Instruments' T^3 ("T cubed") 2014 International Conference in the cool dry sunny desert morning. Aside from the long line at the Starbucks to assuage our caffeine requirements, the focus of the welcome session has been words from TI and from the keynote speaker. We first heard from Gayle Mujica, the Directory of Marketing at TI Education (who also pointed out that my TI-Nspire lapel pin had inverted itself). She welcomed us to the conference and discussed a few logistical details, then handed over the stage to Peter Balyta, the new President of TI Education. Dr. Balyta spoke about TI and its goals with technology in the classroom, highlighting products like the TI-Nspire, TI-84+CSE, and TI-Navigator as well as development projects such as STEM Behind Hollywood. He spoke about the TI-Nspire as a "complete integrated learning environment", speaking of the combination of tools available on the calculator and professional development tools, activities, and resources available to teachers. He described the TI-84+CSE as bringing the pedagogical advantages of color screens to classrooms that use the TI-84+ series. He mentioned the much-touted Common Core, and assured the teachers present that TI is putting effort into supporting it and the variety of new standards being produced, including through the new TICommonCore.com. At the end of his remarks, Dr. Balyta handed over the stage to Dr. November, the keynote speaker.
Dr. Alan November is a well-known proponent of educational technology and of improving teaching and learning in the classroom. He gave an entertaining yet fascinating talk about some of his experiences trying to figure out how to get students more engaged in the classroom. He began with a few polls for the audience: who works the hardest in the classroom, and who needs to work harder: teachers, students, or both? The audience overwhelmingly voted that teachers work the hardest, and either both or students need to work harder. One of the focuses of his talk was how students could play a role in teaching other kids; in his words, "[w]e have underestimated the contribution of kids to the learning ecology of other kids". He mentioned numerous anecdotal examples of students participating in the class in new ways, from creating tutorials for other students that engage them better to making each student the expert in one lesson for the other students to turn to for help. Dr. November was a very engaging speaker, and a great start to the conference.
We enjoyed the words from all three speakers, and we'll be covering the whole conference here on Cemetech, from the huge common sessions with hundreds of attendees to the small plenary sessions. Keep your eyes on Cemetech!
From left to right: Gayle Mujica, Dr. Peter Balyta, and Dr. Alan November