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An outstanding group of Provo teachers, librarians, and administrators attended the Utah Coalition for Educational Technology (or UCET) conference last week here in Provo. The theme of this year’s conference was “Connect,” and it gave attendees a chance to meet in person for the first time in two years to talk about the future of educational technology in Utah schools.
Keynote speaker Cory Henwood, from Juab School District, spoke about rebooting priorities and powering down distractions. Our Provo attendees noticed this thread throughout the conference as they attended sessions that focused on keeping things from before and during the pandemic that really work for our students—such as the opportunities for differentiation that blended learning can provide—while letting go of things that didn’t really work—like using too many different digital tools or none at all.
As Anne Robertson, 5th grade teacher at Edgemont Elementary, said, “There are way too many digital resources for teachers, so I chose to focus on the digital resources I’m currently using and I found many different concepts that I didn’t know about!!!” Lori Sarkady, Kindergarten teacher at Lakeview, said that “My big ‘take away’ was to pick one or two things that work for me and work really hard to perfect them. There are just so many options and so many different ways you can incorporate technology into your classroom, it can be overwhelming. I think starting small and building on 1 or 2 basic things will be more effective than trying to take on a lot of new things.”
We attended sessions on improving blended learning, bringing computer science into our classrooms, and using some of our core tools—Canvas, Nearpod, Google Workspace, Adobe Creative Cloud Express, and Canva—more effectively.
Heath West, Special Education teacher at Provo High School, noted the importance of a direct vision for our use of technology. For Amy Rosenvall, district STEM curriculum specialist, one of the keynote messages was particularly meaningful: When our students fail, we show them grace and help them improve—we need to show ourselves that same grace. If we try something new and it doesn’t work the way we’d hoped, we can give ourselves a break and try again.