2015 Engaging Students Through Technology Symposium

A little over a week ago, I attended the 2015 Engaging Students Through Technology Symposium put on by the Penn Libraries.  I am really interested in incorporating technology into my teaching, so I thought this would be the perfect chance to learn more about what other educators use.  The theme was “Ed Tech 2020: What Will Learning Look Like?”

According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, there were over 200 people from all 12 Penn schools in attendance.  It was free to attend, so I can see why those numbers were so high.  Also, they provided breakfast and lunch.  Learning about tech use in the classroom and free food?  Sign me up!!

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Our afternoon schedule.

The symposium was a day long event that started bright and early in Cohen Hall.  We listened a panel comprised of faculty from across the university, though most of the professors were from the School of Arts and Sciences.  Regardless, a lot of them had some really cool things to say.  For instance, Philip Gressman (a professor from the Math Department) showed us a video on Lightboard technology.  I thought that was the coolest thing I had seen in awhile.  While it was initially developed at Northwestern, Penn has one too!

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Joseph Farrell of the Classics Department showing how Vergil’s Aeneid has been catalogued online.

More in the vein of language learning, Mélanie Péron, a professor from the French department, showed us how she had her French students who were studying abroad in France use blogging as a tool for language learning.  I really enjoyed her presentation and hope to incorporate some of what I saw into my future classrooms.

There was also a student panel, which was really nice because we were able to hear about technology use in the classroom, but from their point of view.  So often I feel as though teachers talk a lot about what they are using, but rarely are the voices of students heard.  It was really nice to get their perspectives.

Engaging Students Through Technology Symposium 2015
Yours truly at the morning session in Cohen Hall. (Photo credit)

After the conclusion of these panels, lunch was provided for us in Van Pelt.  Then, we were able to attend three different concurrent sessions.  I went to Computer-Based Exams, Reading Digitally, and What Can Tech Do?  These sessions were 30 minutes.

To wrap up the day, there was a lightening round sessions where people could give two minute presentations on how they have used technology in their classroom.  I got to see one of my classmates to a presentation on how she uses video chats in her French class to get her students to speak with native French speakers.  Super cool, right?

One of the lightening round presentations.
One of the lightening round presentations.

While a lot of the presentations were centered around what tech can do for the classes taught at Penn, I still walked away with some great ideas for how to use tech in my future ESL classes.  I feel that sometimes tech gets overlooked when planning classes, which is such a shame because it can be such a great resource for students.  Overall, I had a great time at the symposium and plan on attending again next year.


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