TRETC – 2012

For the past fifteen years along with Kevin Conner from the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, I’ve helped to coordinate the Three Rivers Educational Technology Conference (TRETC). The conference began as a project for the Math and Science Collaborative. After the first year the event moved to the Carnegie Science Center. In 2007 the conference moved to the Regional Learning Alliance with the Pittsburgh Technology Council as the sponsoring organization. For the 2013 conference TRETC will move to the Sheraton Four Points in Cranberry, PA. The 2013 theme is: Using Technology to Reimagine Learning.

The 2012 conference was a great success! Over 370 people attended this year. The conference became a national event as two graduate students from UCLA traveled across the country to “Connect to a Digital World.” This year’s conference provided opportunities not only for educators, but for students to learn and teach. This year’s conference included students as workshop leaders, experts in the Digital Playground, and session presenters. Through the Sprout Fund TRETC  added the Spark Creativity Zone showcasing some of the best projects in Western Pennsylvania.

Brian Waniewski, the Managing Director at the Institute of Play in New York City, kicked off the pre-conference by sharing the successful use of Game-based Learning at the Quest to Learn schools in New York City and Chicago. TheQuest to Learn School in NYC is a public school serving 370 students with a mix of genders and race. 40% of the students receive free or reduced lunch and over 25% of the students receive special services. The school includes a series of game designers who work with the content specialists, the teachers. The project originated based on research that the MacArthur Foundation funded investigating the use ofdigital media and learning.

According to Brian there are a series of design principles that guide the school:

  • Everyone is a participant;
  • Challenge is constant;
  • Feedback is immediate;
  • Learning happens by doing;
  • Everything is interconnected
  • It kind of feels like play
Gary Stager, the keynote speaker,  challenged the full-day conference. Gary shared his vision for K-12 education that brings engagement and intensity to classroom instruction. According to Gary teachers should create “memories.”  It’s what the student remembers about the learning process that will remain. Modern knowledge construction is inseparable from computing. Gary shared a variety of examples of kids who are disseminating their knowledge in ways we need to take note.

For those who missed the conference or for anyone who wants to learn more about the presentations, here’s a copy of the presentation or a video capture from a variety of this year’s presenters:

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