For three days starting Sunday, the inaugural class of 10 EdTech fellows from the Digital Harbor Foundation will join close to 13,000 other educators at the 33rd annual conference of the International Society for Technology in Education. The ISTE conference, which this year is being held in San Diego, is a showcase of the latest advancements in information technology in support of learning.
“We wanted to kick off the fellowship by connecting them to a worldwide network of educators who use technology,” says Andrew Coy, co-executive director of DHF. The fellows themselves, six men and four women, come from Baltimore City’s public and charter schools—five teach at the high school level, and five are teachers in elementary and junior high schools.
Thirty applicants submitted materials for the first round of EdTech fellowships. The first group of fellows, Coy says, is “very representative of the teaching pool in the city.”
This summer’s ISTE conference is one of several opportunities the foundation’s EdTech fellows will have to expand their knowledge of tech tools they can use in their classrooms: video-editing software, for example, or the online, collaborative note-taking software Evernote. During the next few months, EdTech fellows will receive training to use a variety of these tech tools. During the academic year, fellows impart their tech knowledge to students in their classrooms.
The idea for the program, which was funded in part by a $200,000 grant from the Abell Foundation, was informed directly by Coy’s experience as a teacher at Digital Harbor High School, where he started an after-school tech club to take advantage of “all this technology sitting at school for six hours of the day not being used.”
“Baltimore has programmers, designers, developers, entrepreneurs, but also a staggering amount of individuals who are systemically unemployed,” Coy says. “And we have students who haven’t been prepared for the realities of the workforce.”
To that effect, Coy hopes the EdTech fellow program will help develop a “little league for technology” in the city’s schools, with teachers serving as coaches to students creating websites or learning computer programming languages. It’s something he believes is needed even more as Baltimore City prepares to close recreation centers this summer.
Coy’s ultimate goal? He wants students to realize they can “get paid to think.”
“What I’ve been doing is showing [students] how they can engage in the world,” he says.-30-