“In terms of using [social media] educationally,” he says, “you don’t see it.”
Aklog, 37, teaches chemistry, public health and environmental science at Federal Hill-based Digital Harbor, where he joined the faculty in 2002. This summer, he was one of 10 EdTech fellows at the Digital Harbor Foundation, taking a series of weeklong courses on individual topics—coding, using social media in the classroom, web design—and working toward one goal: making technology of a key component of how teachers convey, and students consume, information.
“I thought I knew a lot,” says Aklog. “But in terms of those courses, simple things like coding tools available for technology—the whole [education technology] piece—realistically I knew, maybe, 5 percent [of what we learned].”
The road Aklog traveled to this summer’s EdTech fellowship has been slightly more varied than some of the other Digital Harbor Foundation fellows. (Not to mention longer, since Aklog lives in Silver Spring, Md.) Originally from Ethiopia, he came to the United States because his father worked for the World Bank. After finishing his undergraduate degree in biochemistry and biological sciences in 1998 at Bishops University in Quebec, Aklog was poised to head to medical school. But he deferred his first year.
“A couple of my buds wanted to teach overseas,” Aklog says. “I tried to get placed [where they were going] in Korea, but two of the guys backed out. I had to figure out something.”
At the time, another friend was teaching in Washington, D.C. Aklog left Canada and headed south for D.C., but found himself in Baltimore in 1999, where he received his teaching certification in biology and chemistry.
When Aklog went to Digital Harbor High, he started a music entrepreneurship club, teaching students simple production methods to put together music beats and songs. Now Aklog is getting prepared for the soon-to-open Rec2Tech Center in Federal Hill, as well as teaming with EdTech fellow Patrick Gavin—also a Digital Harbor High teacher—to keep some sort of music production club happening after school while integrating other elements of what he learned this summer, like coding and web design.
“We’re just recruiting kids, [and] making sure their interests are going to be cued in on,” says Aklog.