NJEA 2016: The View from Digital Blvd

November 27, 2016

From the Maker Depot's MakerStage to Promedia's New Digital Classrooms, this years Digital Boulevard at NJEA Teacher's Convention was packed with the latest and greatest in the classroom.  Playing a bigger role in this years convention, Digital Boulevard housed and demoed some of the greatest ideas and concepts in integrating 21st century technology.   Scheduled talks and interactive presentatatio

ns were found throughout this row of digital awesomeness including Google Cert Educators, Makers and STEAM educators, Promedia, Morphi App, Lego Education, Code.org, the Maker Depot Academy amazing Maker Stage and many more!!

We had maker educators and STEAM educators showing off some of their cool work and classroom ideas, along with an area to tinker and play.  Bet you never thought a pile of cardboard would be used to foster creative making?  However, these educators allowed anyone to come in and make and the final products were amazing!  On hand was Dan Borghoff, maker and arduino/electronics expert.  Meredith Martin, STEAM queen and maker.  Jacqueline Gerstein, robotics expert and arduino/electronics guru.  Arielle Goldstein, media specialist brining Making to libraries.  In addition, one of my edtech heroes, the great Kevin Jarrett running Google talks and Design Thinking concepts!

This year the Maker Depot Academy had a nice and bulky set up along with a stage for Maker Educators to hold presentations and workshops with teachers at the convention.  The Maker Depot Academy also came with an abundance

of maker tools and gadgets to the convention allowing the crowd to see and test out some of this equipment.  With about 8 Printrbot Play printers, they also demoed two new printers that definitely raised some eyebrows.  One of those being a $200 3D printer called the Malyan m200.  Good quality prints and very affordable for classrooms and schools.  The other one really blew my mind which was the JellyBox 3D Printer.  This printer is a DIY concept printer which is assembled using the plexiglass pieces and zip ties.  Being very skeptical of such an idea, I was blown away with the set up, good parts and good print quality this printer pushed out!  This opens up the doors to not only teaching D

esign Thinking, but how a 3D printer works, assemble one, then possible design your own class project!!

This year at NJEA Convention, I was lucky and privilidged to have presented twice.  On Thursday's session, I ran a Coding in the Classroom workshop and on Friday ran a Robotics in the Classroom session.  Both were well attended, and most importantly, fostered some discussions on how to integrate both coding and robotics into your curriculum.  Educators asked many questions and were provided with plenty of resources that could be used immediately in the classroom.

All in all, this years NJEA Convention was a hit! Lots of educators being exposed to some amazing concepts and ideas in edtech.  One thing is for certain is that education need to embrace technology and embed it as a tool in the classrooms.  We cannot continue to educate kids today the way we were taught being brought up.  Digital Boulevard certainly reinforced this ideas with the many gadgets, digital making, tools and resources available in todays technology driven world that can aid classrooms! 

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