I've been hanging out with the folks from the University of Northern Iowa Instructional Technology program a lot the past two days (from left to right: Dr. Leigh Zeitz, Magda Galloway, Rob Galloway (check out his picture of Woz!)). UNI is the only one of Iowa's three public universities that has a table here at ITEC. Rob and Magda joined me and Jen Sigrist, a curriculum coordinator for the Ankeny (IA) Community School District, for lunch at The Funky Pickle. We had some great chats about the educational technology scene across the state. As a newcomer, I appreciated hearing their insights and experiences.
I ran into Dr. Dennis Harper of Generation YES again. He and I talked with some of the GenY kids from the Nevada (IA) Community School District about cyberbullying. They were very respectful of their teachers and talked about how much trouble they'd get into with their parents if they ever engaged in hostile or harassing online behavior of their teachers or other students. It was a fun conversation with some really, really nice kids.
I then sat in on a session that updated us on the progress of the winners of last year's Iowa Learning Technology Commission grants. Apparently the Iowa legislature allocates the princely sum of half a million dollars per year for K-12 educational technology initiatives. This depressingly small amount is divided among 5 or 6 districts each year (out of over 300) through a competitive grant process. It was a little disheartening to hear how little legislative support there is for digital technologies in Iowa schools. We've got a lot of work to do...
I concluded my day by co-facilitating a session with Greg Davis, Associate Superintendent of the Des Moines (IA) Public Schools. He showed Did You Know? 2.0 and then we had a lively discussion with a packed room about possible futures and teachers' and administrators' obligations to prepare students for those futures.