More than 125 educators—school and district administrators, teachers, and county office of education staff from throughout the Bay Area—attended the ShiftED conference in August. Jointly sponsored by the Silicon Valley Education Foundation and the Microsoft Corporation, the two-day conference was hosted by the KCI at Foothill College. The purpose of the conference was to pool the talent and expertise of educators in creative problem solving, foster reflection and collaboration, and support teams to develop creative solutions to get more value from the technology in their schools.
Santa Clara County Office of Education Superintendent Chuck Weis, Ph.D., kicked off the conference by reviewing the need for developing 21st-century skills of collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving supported by technology. Scott McNealy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems and founder of Curriki, an online environment created to support the development and free distribution of world-class educational materials, made the keynote address.
During his presentation, “Superman Lost His Cape; Now It Is Up to Us,” McNealy challenged the audience to think differently about the state of education. He supports the outlook on education presented in the film Waiting for Superman, and believes that the education system has become a monopoly that no longer serves students with an achievement gap that has become “a Grand Canyon.” Committed to going digital in the classroom, he said, “We can’t wait. Technology moves at the speed of light, and education moves at the speed of Congress.” Day one also featured three educators who hared their experiences with technology in the classroom and the impact it has on students.
Bernie Trilling, co-author of 21st-Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times, led the second day’s session in which teams of educators worked on plans to increase the penetration of technology in their schools and districts. He led participants through a series of exercises designed to get them thinking about what students need to learn today to be successful in a rapidly changing economy—where many of the jobs we have today may not exist, and new jobs, not currently known, will be common. Trilling believes that learning itself will be the most critical skill people will need. As the world continues to shift into a more global economy and jobs continue to move offshore, today’s students need to know how to be lifelong learners. The role technology can play is extremely important in this context.