By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – COVID-19 changed education.
When K-12 schools and colleges across the state were forced to close their doors, students and teachers were suddenly thrust into the world of online learning and instruction. This led to both challenges and opportunities.
Two years after the pandemic began, there’s an increased emphasis on expanding access to online resources and more teachers are looking for ways to utilize technology in the classroom.
“As educators, we’ve definitely raised our game. We now are more literate in terms of online teaching skills, and it’s important that we continue that momentum,” said Mark Reid, dean of the University of Nebraska at Kearney College of Education.
That’s the goal of UNK’s annual Tech EDGE Spring Conference. Scheduled for 7:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Feb. 12 in the College of Education building on campus, the event gives educators and administrators at all levels an opportunity to network and share ideas while learning more about digital equity, innovation in education and post-pandemic learning environments.
“You’ll come away with a toolbox of skills that will help you be a better online educator and even a better face-to-face educator, because many of the strategies that are used in online environments can also be used in face-to-face classrooms,” Reid said.
The conference includes 11 sessions covering a variety of digital learning and teaching topics, including instructional strategies, visual technologies, artificial intelligence, research and equity and inclusion.
The keynote speaker is Brad McLain, a social scientist who serves as director of corporate research at the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) and executive director for the Center for STEM Learning at the University of Colorado Boulder.
McLain’s research focuses on identity development, diversity and inclusion in relation to STEM learning and career pathways, including the nature and impacts of transformative experiences and how such experiences may change our sense of self and life trajectories at different ages. In his role at NCWIT, McLain participates in research, research application and the creation of resources and strategies that organizations can use toward diversification and inclusion in workplace environments and cultures.
Prior to joining NCWIT, he was an assistant professor of education at the University of Colorado Denver; an educational researcher at the Space Science Institute; a multimedia instructional designer in the online learning industry; a NASA educational lead for the space shuttle program, Division of Biological and Physical Sciences and Science Mission Directorate; and a social science researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
An accomplished filmmaker and nationally recognized writer and speaker, McLain has served on the board of directors for the Jane Goodall Institute, STEM Space and Lake Travis STEM Academy.
The Tech EDGE Spring Conference is free to attend, but participants must register at unk.edu/techedge to reserve a spot. Detailed descriptions of the presentations can also be found on the website.
Conference sponsors are UNK’s College of Education, the University of Nebraska System and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Tech EDGE.
Registration and continental breakfast
Welcome address by UNK College of Education Dean Mark Reid
Keynote speaker Brad McLain, director of corporate research at the National Center for Women and Information Technology and executive director for the Center for STEM Learning at the University of Colorado Boulder
“Stop and drop that tech! Innovative teaching does not begin on a device,” Heather Stukey, principal, Windy Hills Elementary
“Infuse-empower-inspire: Reimagining your elementary math instruction,” Chris Knoell, professor, UNK Teacher Education
“Literature review: CS community response to COVID-19,” Keith Tran, computer science major, UNL
“The four pillars of digitally infused education,” Rebecca Nelson, assistant professor; Dawn Mollenkopf, professor; and Martonia Gaskill, associate professor; UNK Teacher Education
“COVID’s cultural accommodations,” Toni Hill, associate professor, UNK Family Science; and Olimpia Leite-Trambly, instructional designer, Nebraska Wesleyan University
“Bibliometric analysis and COVID-19: The state of research conducted during the recent emergency remote learning,” Jineth Oviedo, biochemistry engineering doctoral candidate, Pontificia Universidad Catolic de Valparaiso (Chile); Fabian Otalora, biochemistry engineering doctoral candidate, Antonio Narino University (Colombia); Hector Lunal, biochemistry engineer, Intelecto Analises Tecnicas e Servicos (Brazil); and Martonia Gaskill, associate professor, UNK Teacher Education
11:30 a.m. to noon
“Virtual reality, 3D and 2D learning: Overview of data on students’ experiences in medicine education,” Paul Dye, educational technology and design, University of Nebraska Medical Center/iEXCEL
“Artificial intelligence in educational technology: Separating fact from fiction,” Frank Thiel, instructional designer, UNK Online
“NEscore: Your roadmap to e-module development,” Peggy Moore, director, UNMC E-Learning; and April Elker, program coordinator, UNMC E-Learning
“Inclusion goes to work and school” workshop, Brad McLain, director of corporate research at the National Center for Women and Information Technology and executive director for the Center for STEM Learning at the University of Colorado Boulder