SVRTC Members Participate in Conference Round-up

Two women talking.

On Wednesday, September 18, 2019, SVRTC members from fourteen school divisions were present for the first meeting of the fiscal school year. The topic of professional development included a conference round-up, where various members shared learning from conferences and other professional development experiences.  Members who shared included:

Melissa Hanes, Media Specialist from Buckingham schools, gave members an overview of the emPOWerHatan conference she attended in August.  Melissa presented Google Expeditions at the conference but also shared conference learning in regards to literacy, maker stations, and collaborations across the curriculum using computers and iPads to create projects.  This was the first year that Powhatan public schools held the conference, which also served as a professional development day. 

Stephanie Playton, ITTIP’s STEM Learning Specialist, reported on the ISTE conference held in Philadelphia in June. She and Dr. Leach presented their work with the InTEL grant that involved eighteen teachers focusing on global collaboration, problem-based learning and alternative assessments.  Some of trendy items she found at the ISTE conference included digital storytelling, podcasting, AR and VR, and anything Google.  She added some of the newer topics at the conference included artificial intelligence, coding robots and eSports.

Marcia Martin, Director of Instruction, Grants & Technology with Nottoway, shared information on the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC).  It is a four-day conference that costs $600.00 and she stated it is well worth the money to attend.  Marcia reported there was a diversity of workshops that were offered during the conference and a very large Expo that provided many hands-on opportunities to try out technology tools.  While exploring the Expo, Marcia and others from her division were able to try out a new state of the art interactive Play Wall and ended up purchasing one for their elementary school.

Bill Wilson, Senior Technology Engineer with ITTIP/SVRTC, discussed his attendance at the Interop conference held in Las Vegas in May.  This conference is for IT personnel to learn about emerging technology.  He stated that augmented reality and artificial intelligence were hot topics.  He encouraged members to attend and learn about new products that could potentially save school divisions money.

Other members who shared their conference experiences included Cori Sowers, ITRT with Danville City Schools. She shared her notes from the Techstravaganza 2019 on the SVRTC Facebook group page. 

Brook Hatcher with Mecklenburg schools informed members that her division held a one-day conference style event with their teachers as presenters for professional development.  She stated the presenters shared information from VSTE.  This style event worked better than having several different professional development days.  The teachers liked the format and they hope to continue with this for next year. 

Tim Mays, Instructional Technologist with Sussex Schools, shared his experience from the PowerSchool University in Florida. He also attended emPOWerHatan conference.  He also shared that he attended CodeVA where he learned how to incorporate computer science in the curriculum. 

The meeting provided an informative view of technology in education across several learning experiences. Links to member presentations can be found on the Professional Development page.

How Secure is Your Data?

SVRTC members gathered Wednesday, April 17, 2019 at Nottoway High school’s mini auditorium for the last meeting of the 2018-19 year.  Ten divisions were represented (Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Danville, Franklin City, Hopewell City, Lunenburg, Nottoway, Prince Edward and Sussex).

Man presenting to group of people.

The main topic for the meeting was securing data presented by guest speakers, Justin Wilkins and Steve Rennard, from Varonis.  Members learned how Varonis can do a risk assessment of a division’s data to identify the data weaknesses, highlight security vulnerabilities and make recommendations. The initial assessments are complimentary and the pricing is based on the number of users.  They discussed several examples of where data was breached and the information became public along with several examples of data being ransomed. For more information about the presentation, please review their slides or contact the company.

Woman with glasses on.

Bill Wilson, Senior Technology Engineer for ITTIP and SVRTC, brought a couple technologies for the group to be aware of. One was a nine-dollar wireless camera. The other technology was a set of prism glasses in which you enables you to look forward, but see “down”. The glasses were passed around for members to check out!

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