David Robb, Specialist, Department of Digital Learning
More than 200 Baltimore County Public Schools’ (BCPS) teachers and administrators attended the EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit at the Baltimore Four Seasons on Saturday, February 22. The summit brought together 30 leading entrepreneurial companies in the educational technology space with educators across the region.
U.S. Department of Education Acting Deputy Director James Shelton kicked off the event with an inspirational keynote. Mr. Shelton spoke about the “broken pipeline” of innovation in education; either good ideas don’t make it out of the classroom, or companies design products without input from teachers and students. His message set the stage for the day: companies must design their tools to address the day-to-day needs of schools and they must start by talking directly with teachers. According to BCPS’ Digital Learning resource teacher Jennifer Weaver, “Mr. Shelton really hit the nail on the head when he talked about the importance of iteration. As teachers, we need to try out new ideas and suggest improvements. And designers need to work with us to solve the problems we face. It was a powerful message.”
The majority of the summit was devoted to giving educators and entrepreneurs an opportunity to collaborate. The participating companies including many start-ups solicited suggestions from educators on how to improve their products. Educators were able to learn about the latest technology tools and get a peek at what’s on the horizon in the ed tech industry. Woodholme Elementary teacher Melissa Daniels commented, “I enjoyed the opportunity to talk with the vendors in a non-sales situation and hear about these products, ask questions, and offer feedback that they seemed very eager to hear.”
The Maryland Society for Educational Technology, Baltimore City Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools joined Baltimore County Public Schools to co-host this event. This partnership helped bring together educators from public and private schools across central Maryland and gave BCPS’ educators an opportunity to expand their professional learning networks.