In a city with as much hustle and bustle as the next, New Orleans has a good number of meetups, especially tech meetups, already on the radar. But, there’s always room for more that will help us learn and grow, which is why teacher Jin-Soo Huh has recently announced the newest meetup in town, Ed Tech MeetUp: New Orleans.
Teach For America is sponsoring the event and the group is hosting its first meetup on Wednesday, October 17, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Bridge Lounge. Huh and the group want to foster the education technology community in the city by sharing tools, insights, and by being able to discuss amongst a crowd of educators, parents, developers, entrepreneurs, and other community members.
I spoke to Huh to learn more about the importance of ed tech in New Orleans and what we can expect for the future of the Ed Tech Meetup. Read on to find out more:
Why is ed tech so important in a city like New Orleans?
New Orleans is really a perfect ecosystem for educational technology to thrive. The key advantage New Orleans have is the flexibility schools and teachers have in implementing new tools. There is also so much energy and talent in New Orleans right now as it has become a hub for education reform. In addition, there is a great emerging technology and overall innovation landscape here in the city. There are so many organizations that are supporting start ups and innovators like LaunchPad, 4.0 Schools, and so many others. Many of these startups and organizations are heavily invested in making New Orleans stronger and so education is a natural area of interest.
Moreover, schools need to ensure that they are preparing their students for the future workforce they will be entering. Using technology in meaningful ways prepare our students for the ever more techy and connected world. Technology can also be used to better reach our students with more personalized learning and real world application.
Describe a few of the tools used in ed tech that will be discussed at the meetups.
For this initial meetup, we really wanted to showcase tools that educators and parents could immediately use in their classroom the next day with minimal set up time. With so many ed tech tools out there, we wanted to showcase ones that teachers have found most helpful to help save other educators time. So we will be showcasing programs like Socrative that turns any internet connected device into a clicker so teachers can get an instant pulse on how students are picking up the material. We’ll also be showing programs where teachers can safely text with parents and students to close the gap between home and school.
We also wanted to showcase relatively new ed tech companies to showcase to entrepreneurs that there is a market for such ventures as well as encourage attendees to share their own tools that they find useful. We hope this collaboration and sharing really drives these meetups. From there, we would love to see the interests of the members really drive the tools that get showcased.
Do you expect to have speakers or other guests attending the meetup in the future?
Those were some ideas we have discussed. It would be great to have a panel of teacher-entrepreneurs who identified a pain point in their schools and innovated to come up with a solution. It would be great to hear from teachers who are effectively integrating technology into their classrooms and hear best practices around it. It would be great to have a dialogue connecting entrepreneurs to educators so they can collaborate around solving some of these pain points. For now, we want to gauge the interest of the members and let that drive further programming.
Is there anything else we should know?
I’m a recent transplant to New Orleans. I was a teacher in Prince George’s County for three years but was lured here by the education reform movement happening in the city and the emerging technology scene. Last year, I was part of a teacher team that oversaw a 1:1 iPad implementation at the school and I love collaborating with other educators, parents, entrepreneurs and other key stakeholders. As it says on our Facebook group, the group aims to:
- Create a network of educators who are integrating technology or are interested in integrating technology in their schools so they can collaborate and share tools and best practices;
- Connect educators, developers, entrepreneurs, academics, parents, and other community members invested in integrating technology in education
Oftentimes, teachers who are using technology are islands in their buildings so part of the mission of this group is to connect these islands together and from there bring in other stakeholders to make integrating technology meaningfully into schools the norm.