Berkeley Faculty Embrace Technology in the Classroom

While Tuesday, February 17, was a day off from school for Berkeley students, their teachers were participating in a half-day, peer-to-peer technology sharing conference designed to advance the Berkeley classroom experience beyond books, whiteboards and paper.

The in-service day dedicated to the Berkeley Technology Conference (BTC) was the second of its kind following the success of the first technology conference in September. The conference provided the Berkeley faculty with a hands-on professional development opportunity led by faculty technology facilitators who worked side-by-side with their peers to introduce them to the latest teaching apps and software. The goal of each conference is to inspire teachers to take what they learned back to their classrooms in an effort to make learning more dynamic and engaging. The faculty participated in two sessions that introduced them to new technologies, and they were asked to share how they incorporated a new technology into their curriculum from what they learned during the first technology conference in the fall.  
 
The sharing of technology is an ongoing initiative at Berkeley that encourages faculty to make learning more tangible by using software, apps, Wikis, blogs, Twitter accounts and other social media platforms that students not only learn from but contribute to as part of a lesson plan. This initiative is the result of key strategies within Berkeley’s five-year strategic plan that guide the school ahead of the technological curve and set precedence for innovation in the classroom.
 
"Through the BTC, Berkeley faculty are changing the teaching model that connects technology and curriculum, design thinking and project-based learning, and the myriad of technology tools available all help innovate our classrooms and teach our students how to be critical thinkers in a digital age,” said Jason St. Amand, Upper Division Technology Coordinator and AP Computer Science teacher. St. Amand explained that BTC arose from a desire to enhance the relationship between technology, curriculum, faculty and students to bridge the gap between real world critical thinking skills and the classroom.  “It’s not just about apps and software, but rather changing the model or pedagogy of teaching.  The movement towards student-led and created work is a key talking point in this effort.  That is why ‘maker spaces’ and ‘learning labs’ are a large part of the conversation in educational literature and conferences.”  Berkeley’s Gries Center for the Arts and Sciences, currently under construction, will feature spaces including a design studio, a dedicated robotics room and a media lab that will facilitate these teacher-student collaborative spaces.
 
The BTC concluded with an Innovation Lab hosted by the division technology coordinators to brainstorm technology integration ideas and answer any further questions from the day.  The lab allowed the faculty to work with the school’s technology leaders to personalize their technology integration into their curriculum. 
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