BSD at ISTE 2019: Highlights

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The ISTE conference is a wonderful time of year where educators from around the world gather to discuss the latest trends and technologies impacting education. It’s a time to look forward to the new challenges and opportunities that face students with a positive attitude and an open mind. This year, BSD was fortunate to have the ISTE conference land straight on our doorstep, here in the city of Philadelphia.

During the weekend leading up to the conference, BSD hosted nearly one hundred educators onsite at our office atop the String Theory School in Philadelphia. The teachers in attendance represented states from across the US as well as multiple countries including Nigeria, Singapore, and Brazil. Over the course of the day, teachers shared experiences, built their personal networks and engaged with interactive workshops, lead by the BSD team. Here are some of the highlights!

Why Code? The Student Advantage

To kick off the day, teachers gathered in the assembly hall at String Theory School to learn about the current innovations and future trends that are most impacting the modern workplace. We reflected on how the exponential growth of Big Data has thrust the world from a manufacturing centric economy into the Innovation Economy where information is king. Thinking ahead, we discussed how Artificial Intelligence is poised to challenge the idea of human employment and what it means to add value to society and fulfillment to your life.

As part of the opening remarks, we touched on two major benefits of students learning code: practicing Computational Thinking and Design Thinking. In many ways, Computational Thinking is problem-solving and fits nicely into many existing school subjects. Conversely, Design Thinking is an emerging focus for industry as a process for solving real-world problems for others. Coding can help to bring this aspect of learning into the classroom experience.

During the presentation, several insightful discussions arose from teachers including thoughts about Machine Learning and the future role of the computer as well as the negative consequences of under-represented minority groups in the development of Artificial Intelligence. As one teacher noted “Computer programs are a reflection of the human who coded them.”

Interactive Workshops 

Next, teachers broke up into smaller groups to participate in hands-on workshops where they had the opportunity to experience real world coding using BSD Online. Just as with our students, the experience level amongst teachers ranged from absolute beginner to experienced coding teacher. With the help of BSD Online’s guided projects, everyone was able to take something away from the experience.

The first session revolved around the challenge of incorporating technology into traditionally non-tech subjects. BSD’s platform was able to scaffold teachers to build a website about their chosen subject using real HTML and CSS code.

The second session examined the benefits and limitations of block-based coding platforms such as Scratch and Tynker. We concluded that they serve an important role in getting young students, K-3, engaged with computational thinking but suffer when students try to apply their skills beyond games. Teachers experienced how BSD Online’s guided projects make the learning of JavaScript programming accessible, even for early readers.

Key Takeaways

The full day workshop was a powerful experience, not only for the teachers who participated but for BSD as well. We exchanged insights and experiences with teachers from around the world, received an inside view of the concerns and struggles that teachers face in an ever-changing world, and built relationships that will grow to impact students around the world!

If you are a teacher or school administrator and would like to learn more about using technology in the classroom, please reach out to us! We can help you prepare your students for the everchanging challenges of tomorrow and help them gain digital skills that will follow them into their future ambitions.

about Mike
Mike is the Head of Partner Success. He brings a decade of coding and classroom teaching experience to his role at BSD.
Combining in-depth technical knowledge with strong communication and presentation skills, his work helps to inform BSD's technology curriculum, online platform experience, and professional development offerings.

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