This post is sponsored by Samsung. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Each January, thousands travel to Orlando, Florida to take part in the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC), one of the nation’s best edtech related learning opportunities for educators. Showing a growing trend in the field, this year’s FETC brought more educators than ever before – almost 10,000 school professionals, from superintendents and principals, to instructional technology coaches and classroom teachers. All 50 states and even 49 countries were represented at this dynamic conference focused on transforming the classrooms of yesterday to provide students with 21st century learning opportunities.
Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, and author of “Women Who Don’t Wait in Line” opened FETC with an incredible keynote, sharing the value of STEM education, while highlighting the many gaps that still exist in our education system, particularly around gender and meeting the needs of our students in poverty, as well as our students of color. Reshma’s opening keynote was followed by over 500 sessions and hands-on workshops focused on STEM, while supporting educators working to improve their instructional practice.
As a board member for FETC, the co-leader of this year’s FETC Executive Summit, and one of the designers of this year’s brand new Future Ready leadership track aimed at supporting school leaders, I enjoyed working to provide high level, engaging sessions to support educators in their own growth, whether a district superintendent or second grade teacher. Sessions were hands-on and relevant – as they should be; not simply sit and get while listening to some guy spout off his presentation slides.
One of the most exciting things to be announced at this year’s FETC, however, was the release of three new dynamic learning solutions by Samsung. In partnering with Neverware, McGraw-Hill Education, and SMART Technologies, Samsung unveiled and showcased new classroom collaboration tools for the Chromebook 3 – a much needed toolset to support 21st century teaching and learning opportunities. Ted Brodheim, vice president of Vertical Business at Samsung Electronics America shared how, “Samsung is committed to delivering technology that facilitates this teamwork, helping students create, communicate, challenge and think critically. We’re helping schools deploy one-to-one digital learning solutions that drive collaboration and encourage creative problem solving to help students succeed.” It’s this exact type of mindset that is needed to support instructional transformation and an area where Samsung has undoubtedly been an educational leader.
Unveiled this month and available for purchase in February are:
1. A seamless and simplistic way to have all the tools – right where you need them.
Classroom teachers often end up with a hodgepodge of devices and software leading to common frustrations over lost instructional time, web-resources that don’t move past low level skills which also utilize a one-size-fits-all approach, and minimal professional learning – a top deterrent to improved instruction. Samsung’s new Classroom in a Box is a comprehensive learning solution designed to make the transition to digital learning seamless and effective. This solution includes: 30 Samsung Chromebook 3 devices, high octane digital content and professional learning from partner McGraw-Hill education, as well as various subscriptions, licenses, and tech support services. This type of all-in-one solution removes common roadblocks to transforming instruction by avoiding the piecemeal approach to implementation that stifles classroom innovation and the needed pedagogical shift.
2. A new opportunity to convert older computers to classroom Chromebooks.
As a former district tech director who worked through various difficult refresh and budget cycles, this is a fabulous opportunity for districts to continue with their digital transformation, while keeping costs stable, yet the ability to simultaneously update the hardware. Samsung partnered with Neverware to offer schools the ability to leverage existing hardware during the transition, through the use of their CloudReady OS software, which is run under a single Google Device Management Console. Their bundled solution includes: 100 Samsung Chromebook 3 devices, 100 CloudReady licenses for existing computers, 200 Google Device Management Console licenses (100 for Chromebooks and 100 for CloudReady machines), and top notch tech support.
3. A new way for students to explore, create, and design – all keys to the effective use of educational technologies.
Specifically designed for education, SMART amp is cloud-based software that empowers students to co-create content on a digital canvas and in turn, enables anywhere, anytime collaborative learning opportunities. Teachers are able to collaborate on the SMART Exchange, a well established, online community with thousands of existing SMART amp-compatible resources. With this new partnership, Samsung will offer a bundle that includes the SMART amp™ enabled Samsung Chromebook 3 and online professional development to foster student collaboration, while giving teachers real-time insight into the learning process – an invaluable tool. This new bundle includes: 10 Samsung Chromebook 3 devices, 60 SMART amp licenses, access to SMART professional development modules, and all needed licenses.
As our world and the needs of our students change, so too must our teachers’ instructional practice in our nation’s classrooms. For years, many schools have tried to implement 1:1 in a piecemeal approach, leading with devices and minimal professional learning with minimal success. With the proper partners, dynamic solutions such as those listed, and a laser focus on shifting the instructional model to one that is more personalized, great things happen for kids.