2020 Fall

Photos by Norton Gusky CC BY 4.0

Due to the COVID-19 situation most of my projects have been put on hold. I’m trying to plan for activities beyond this fall, but like many people it’s uncertain what that might look like.

Usually at this time I’m working with the Energy Innovation Center (EIC) to kick off a new series of Design Challenges  with high school students from the Parkway West consortium of schools.  The Design Challenges are on hold until possibly January 2021.

Even though I’m not officially working with Birdbrain Technologies, I’ve been promoting their At Home link for students and educators to program robots without Hummingbird Kits or Finches. Birdbrain rolled out its new Finch 2.0 for the fall term. Like many edtech companies, Birdbrain is developing innovative strategies that will extend its creative and collaborative problem-solving during a time of physical distancing.

This fall I’m working with the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN) Emerging Technologies committee to begin to look at low tech ways for students and educators to connect to necessary resources during the COVID-19 crisis. In November an article I co-wrote will appear in the National Association of Secondary Principals publication. The article will highlight best practices and why to use XR in an Immersive Learning environment for secondary students. Beginning in October I’ll join the Advisory Board for the Driving K-12 Innovation project sponsored by CoSN.

Even though I’m no longer coordinating the programming for the Three Rivers Educational Technology Conference (TRETC), I’m helping to promote this year’s virtual event that will move from November to January 18, 2021.

With a little more time on my hands than usual, I’m spending hours working on volunteer activities and some personal pursuits. I have been previewing films for this year’s virtual Film Pittsburgh Fall Festival that will take place from November 11 – 22. While we don’t have our line-up finalized, I can tell you there will be a great variety of features and shorts from the United States and around the world.

I also volunteer my time for the Neighborhood Learning Alliance (NLA), a non-profit that provides mainly services for young people in under-served communities in the Pittsburgh region. With Pittsburgh Public Schools and other neighboring schools starting the year in a virtual mode, there was a need for safe places for students with working parents to go to work on their academic assignments. NLA stepped up to the challenge and through a grant sponsored by Trying Together established a series of Community Learning Hubs.

On a personal level I’ve used the time to explore museums, galleries, my neighborhood with my camera, and even some live music from people’s porches.