Digital technology is a double-edged sword,” said Superintendent Andrew Selesnick. “It allows us to do many amazing things, but we also know that some of the platforms it supports, such as social media, have been linked to increasing rates of anxiety and depression.”
He described the district’s vision for a thoughtful, inventive, balanced approach to technology and introduced Ted Lai as someone who could support educators in creating purposeful, technology-embedded lessons which expand students’ horizons and prepare them for the future.
Lai spoke educator-to-educator to the group gathered in John Jay Middle School’s auditorium. He shared what motivated him to become a classroom teacher then director of technology and media services for a school district to eventually working in educational development for Apple. “I wanted to have the greatest impact I could on student learning,” said Lai. “I saw that technology is where innovation is happening.”
He asked teachers how they’ve seen education change with technology. Among the responses: collaboration is not tethered to location; content is available everywhere, not just in school; and with this proliferation of information, teachers’ role has shifted to providing context, not just content.
“I invite you to think about how technology is opening the door to possibility,” said Lai. “We need to raise our expectations for the role of technology in learning.”
Lai emphasized the importance of providing students with basic skills of digital agility, media literacy, and coding, and challenging students to use these skills for an authentic purpose. He cited examples of students creating a platform that designed prosthetics for veterans, using technology to raising funds for earthquake relief, and creating an app that supported those with memory loss.
“Every learner is a creator. Every creator has the power to change the world," said Lai.