TRETC 2013

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 relocated to the Sheraton Four Points in Cranberry, PA. The 2013 theme was: Using Technology to Remake Learning.

TRETC2013_RemakeLearningThe 2013 conference was a great success! Over 450 people and 40 vendors attended this year. 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 Remake Learning Zone, and session presenters. The Remake Learning Zone included a variety of projects funded by the Sprout Fund that highlighted Learning Innovations. Presenting groups included the Avonworth School District’s student art gallery, the South Fayette School District sharing their project on sustainable gardening using technology, the Cornell video productions highlighting Pittsburgh historical characters, Steeltown Entertainment, Assemble, and the LAMP, a New York-based company creating media tools for learners.

TRETC2013_Slack

Andrew Slack, the Executive Director of the Harry Potter Alliance, opened the conference with a keynote speech that highlighted the use of digital media by learners. Andrew outlined how the HPA has sent five cargo planes to Haiti, built libraries across the world, advocated for human rights, media reform, and equality on LGBTQ, education, and immigration. Andrew is a Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellow for 2013-2014.  He is spending the year in New York City developing the Imagine Better Network: an unprecedented movement that goes beyond Harry Potter to all fandoms so that fantasy is no longer an escape from our world, but an invitation to change it for the better. Andrew shared how pop culture can engage students and challenge them to become civically engaged. His most recent endeavor is developing a curriculum for the Pearson Foundation focused on the The Hunger Games.

TRETC2013_CulattaKeynoteRichard Culatta, the keynote speaker,  provided an animated presentation that shared the power of “Big Data,” demonstrated the new directions from the federal government for Connectivity, illuminated some best practices for personalizing learning, and offered suggestions for ways to reimagine learning using technology. Richard is currently the Director of Educational Technology for the Department of Education.
Following Richard Culatta’s presentation participants had a chance to enjoy a variety of presentations from local, regional, and national presenters. The 2013 conference highlighted two regionally recognized leaders in education – Ed McKaveney, the Director of Technology for the Hampton School District, and Justin Aglio, the co-principal of Propel Braddock Hills High School. Ed received the Frank Withrow award from the Consortium of Schools Networked (CoSN) in 2013 and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) honored Justin as one of five emerging leaders across the nation.
TRETC2013_ZeePoerioOne of the novel ideas incorporated into TRETC 2013 was the Sit By Me activity with a “Red Chair” for participants to share their stories about women in computing. Zee Poerio, one the TRETC planning team members brought two of her students for both days of TRETC. Both men, women, students, teachers, and educational leaders from around the region shared their stories. Sit With Me is a national advocacy campaign designed to encourage women in computing careers.  Sit With Me seeks to raise the visibility of technical women by providing a gathering place for people (men, women, technical, non-technical) to acknowledge the valuable contributions of women in computing.
Another new direction included a student video showcase organized by Steeltown Entertainment.
For 2014 expect some new directions to bring on board more startup companies and projects and evidence of the impact of digital technologies on learning.
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