Monday, October 28, 2013

UMSL: Showcasing the Essence of Humanized Learning Innovation

How do we innovate education with technology? That question is such an important one for educators to think about in our digital, mobile society, as we continue to find new challenges and opportunities upon us.

Last week, I had the great pleasure of presenting a keynote at the 12th annual Focus on Teaching with Technology, a regional conference held at UMSL (the University of Missouri, St. Louis). The event was fabulous. My presentation was titled Humanizing Learning with Emerging Technologies and I was elated to engage the participants with an energetic backchannel via Twitter.

Now that I'm settled back on the west coast, I have been reflecting on the energy, enthusiasm, and innovation I witnessed at UMSL and am left with a great deal of respect and admiration for the solid teamwork, professionalism, and appreciation for treating people with courteosy that I experienced in my brief visit. That may seem like a simplistic take away when attempting to examine the question "How do we innovate education with technology?" but I don't think it is.  

Carl Hoagland was the individual who introduced me before I spoke on Thursday.  Carl had taken the time to read my blog and shared an excerpt that I had written just a few weeks ago that told the story about how I had started my blog in a workshop led by two elementary educators in 2007.  He credited me with being a "learner," which I found very refreshing coming from an educator of such high achievement.  Carl is a noted visionary at UMSL and credited with leading the effort on campus to create the E. Desmond Lee Technology and Learning Center. Carl walked me through the center and quietly shared with me that the team in the center has always been taught to understand that the way people are treated is always more important than the fancy tools and technology contained within the center itself.  

Carl's message and the warm, welcome I received from Keeta Holmes, Margaret (Peggy) Cohen, Michael Porterfield, Dylan Herx, and the rest of the CTL staff resonated with me.  In many ways, I saw connections with the presentation I shared that day.  

Meeting a passionate leader who not only has a track history of taking a vision and implementing it successfully but remains connected within his/her community as a learner him/herself seems like a rare find to me and that shouldn't be.  As I look back at last week, I feel like I met about a half dozen Carls within the Technology and Learning Center staff.

As we all continue to seek ways to leverage technology to improve learning, we must never lose sight of the importance of the human touch.  Ensuring people are treated like individuals with unique needs will always be central to effective learning.  Thank you for a memorable visit, UMSL. :)

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