Feb 18 2022

TCEA 2022: 4 Takeaways from This Year’s Event

Connections with experts and shared resources serve as fuel for attendees returning to their classrooms.

The past couple of years have put educators through the wringer. However, as TCEA 2022, the biggest educational technology conference in Texas, drew to close, attendees shared how reconnecting with fellow educators armed them with needed resources to continue working during these challenging times.

From teacher self-care to intentional use of technology, here are four takeaways from the first in-person TCEA convention in two years:

1. Schools Must Continuously Prepare for Cyberattacks

With rising cybersecurity incidents in public schools (more than 1,300 since 2016, according to the K12 Security Information Exchange), there’s little wonder as to why TCEA 2022 featured several sessions with schools sharing lessons learned.

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Several school leaders said the breaches they experienced opened their eyes to vulnerabilities in their networks and resulted in escalated fixes. However, they are under no delusion that these attacks can’t happen again and are remaining vigilant. One of the ways they are doing so is by spreading the message that everyone in a school’s district can contribute to cybersecurity efforts.

2. Educators Must Ramp Up Self-Care

There is no doubt that in the best of times, education is no walk in the park. However, with the nonstop chaos that came along with teaching during a pandemic, many educators experienced physical burnout.

With the porous boundaries between remote and hybrid classrooms, most have been working from home in some capacity, and their reliance on technology may also lead to technology burnout.

“It’s all too easy to be attached 24/7 to our work emails, calendars and text messages,” said Amber Teamann, technology director at Crandall Independent School District. In her session on self-care, Teamann advocated setting healthy boundaries. “Self-care is the actualization of taking physical care of yourself. Digital boundaries are self-care.”

DISCOVER: How can districts introduce ed tech without causing tech burnout?

3. Collaboration in Education Improves Outcomes

No one wins when knowledge is siloed, and throughout this convention dedicated to sharing knowledge, several attendees expressed appreciation for all they have learned. One of the most common themes was how well collaboration has served educators and, ultimately, students.

In multiple sessions, presenters shared how their colleagues from separate disciplines came together to achieve impressive outcomes, such as initiating one-to-one programs, addressing digital equity or starting an esports club.

In one session, librarians and technology specialists at Lumberton ISD shared how they worked together to create interactive learning stations in the library and helped classroom teachers make better use of technology during their lessons.

4. Be Intentional When Choosing Ed Tech

Finally, presenters in several sessions reminded educators that while there are many ways that educational technology can increase efficiency and student understanding, there is power in being thoughtful when selecting ed tech.

READ MORE: How can school leaders choose ed tech intentionally?

In her session about online learning, instructional technology consultant and author Lindy Hockenbary encouraged teachers to keep it simple. She said using multiple digital tools can create roadblocks and confusion for students.

Thomas Murray, director of innovation for Future Ready Schools, agreed. In his session on building cultures of innovation, he noted that as a fan of ed tech — and as a former teacher, principal and CIO — he believes educators should look for evidence of what works when using technology.

Thomas Murray
My encouragement to technology leaders is to be really intentional about our ed tech purchases, and ultimately about its use, so we can have deeper levels of learning in our classrooms for kids.”

Thomas Murray Director of Innovation, Future Ready Schools

“Let’s contrast active versus passive use of technology,” he said. “When you think about passive use of educational technology, it’s really consumption-based use, and from a learning perspective, that’s low-level. When we look at the evidence related to effective use of technology, students do better with active use, where they get to use technology to explore, design and create.”

“My encouragement to technology leaders is to be really intentional about our ed tech purchases, and ultimately about its use, so we can have deeper levels of learning in our classrooms for kids,” he added.

See all of EdTech's written coverage of TCEA 2022 on this page, and follow us on Twitter @EdTech_K12.

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