Friday, March 7, 2014

Students Involved with Technology Conference 2014

On February 22nd, all across Illinois, students were sharing and learning at an amazing Saturday event called The Students Involved with Technology Conference, sponsored by State Farm. There are several locations around Illinois where kids gather. We helped organize the North Campus of the conference in Buffalo Grove, IL. I was lucky enough to hear of this event two years ago from my colleague Amy Lamberti (@amylamberti). Since, I have been singing its praises to my friends, their kids, my educator friends, really, to anyone who would listen.

The day is magical because third through twelfth graders spend the day learning from each other and creating together. The students prepare presentations on technology related topics that they are passionate about, then present to each other in a conference breakout session style. There are also SIT Sponsored presentations on creating movies with green screens, Maker Space exploration, a Minecraft Challenge room, a SIT Logo room, and a Mystery Challenge room. Each of these rooms are places where students can create something collaboratively using some form of creativity.

Carrying their "Tech Bags" 
The magic really happens when you see kids, passionately sharing their expertise to each other. They shared about being Tech Gurus in their schools, how to make great movies using iMovie, how to create apps, how to use iTunesU to learn, building a great YouTube Channel and all kinds of other topics. They were not forced to present. They wanted to share their passion at the conference. They wanted to do the work. It was amazing to see 3rd graders present to a packed room with such confidence. The energy and excitement just filled me right up!

My 10 son and his 9 year old cousin presented during SIT 2013 for the first time. I don't think they could have had more fun. They presented on how to create great movies using an app called Splice (iPhone app). Watching my two little tech geeks captivate a room for kids and adults for 30 minutes got me their 4th grade teachers even know that they are presenting at a conference? Do they know they have a YouTube channel (OPLAYSMINECRAFT) with all kinds of followers? Do they know that they love to share what they are passionate about? Probably not. Why not?

The SIT Conference has a special place in my heart because it is a day where kids who are really into tech can gather, share and learn. Be free to be who they are. Connect, get feedback and share their skills with people who are really interested in their passion too. Don't we all want to be heard? Validated?

Creating his winning entry in Minecaft Challenge.
In a previous post (Diorama to Minecraft: A Shift in Audience), I encouraged my son to use Minecraft instead of creating another diorama for school. His teacher was impressed, and mildly annoyed that I changed her learning product, but nothing has changed in his classroom. Minecraft is not just a game kids are obsessed about. It is a creativity tool that could easily be brought into school. If we can harness that excitement for creation and technology and connecting with others inside the walls of our schools, kids would be running into school, not home.

I guess the bigger question is, why are creation tools that kids are into at home so far removed from what they do in school? Shouldn't we be embracing that passion
for movie making in school somehow? Shouldn't my nephew be able to use those skills to share his learning?

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a fantastic day!!! What a great chance for kids to get to present, share, connect and learn with others that are as inspired as they are by technology and what it can do.

    I don't understand the difference between the districts that do and the ones that don't. It is a frustrating problem I face too. I only think that we can begin by modeling for them and sharing the things our children are doing away from the classroom with them. Then hope they see the benefits of it.