Monday, August 17, 2009

Go to an Educational Technology Conference

I recently got to go to the Educators' Technology Conference. It was actually organized by teachers for teachers so some people wonder why I went. Well in my opinion it is important for museum professionals who are planning on using technology in their museum to know what technology is being used in schools so you know if what you are creating is compatible.

It was very enlightening. It was fabulous, but not surprising, to learn that teachers are looking for educational content online for use in the classroom. Their looking for audio, video, worksheets, presentations, in short anything to aid them in teaching their students.

The disappointing revaluation is that they often don't know where to look or they are blocked from going to the sites they know about. There was much discussion about the websites and, two fabulous sites dedicated to offering a place to find safe content for educational purposes. I was shocked to find out that many schools have blocked these websites. When I asked the teachers why they were blocked no one could really give me an answer.

I was exstatic to find out that many teachers are looking for podcasts to use in the classroom and that most of them are using iTunes to do so. Score one for our museum since we're listed in iTunes. Some teachers are fortunate enough to have access to iTunes in their classroom, but other schools won't allow iTunes to be installed. I was disappointed that no one I ran into at the conference had heard about iTunes U. It's sad because we are posting a lot of educational content that way. I will say everyone I talked to was excited about iTunes U after I explained what it was. So how do we get the word out that our museum is in iTunes U?

The other thing that surprised me was how little interest teacher's seem to have in getting content from local providers. They talked a lot about National Geographic, Discovery, and the History Channel. None of them mentioned our museum, AETN, KUAF, The Encyclopedia of Arkansas, or the Museum of Discovery not to mention all the other museums, libraries, and centers in the state that are publishing content online. It's sad that they seem to be missing all this great information that's in their own backyard.