Eras of Instructional Technology set the stage at Tech Expo

Keynote speaker at capstone event touts storytelling to make learning last

Trevor Muir delivering TECH EXPO keynote addressTrevor Muir is many things—educator, author, speaker—but foremost a storyteller.

The stories in which we see ourselves as integral players are the ones that make memories stick and learning last, Mr. Muir told a packed Tech Expo audience at the IBM Learning Center in Armonk May 17.

Stories are what make teaching’s impact permanent, he said. There is this idea that our work is temporary as teachers, he added, that you get 180 days and however many hours per day with a child.

“I’m sure you feel the same way, like the work that you do is anything but temporary,” he said. “There is just this power to this work.”

His message was punctuated throughout his hour-long keynote address by rich, detailed stories, including those of his middle school English and math teachers who in separate instances made a lasting impact on his learning—the latter with a harsh reaction to classroom disruption, the former with empathy and a ready ear at a difficult time.

woman demonstrates on floor for audienceBoth tipped over dominoes in his journey to becoming the educator he is today, Mr. Muir said.

Tech Expo is the annual capstone event for the LHRIC’s Technology Leadership Institute, highlighting the contributions of the region’s teachers and administrators and providing ample opportunities for networking with peers, experts and vendors. This popular event has grown steadily over the years, prompting this year’s exciting move to IBM’s spacious and elegant Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Center for Learning in Armonk.

The theme this year was “Eras of Instructional Technology,” with organizers representing various stages in the development of learning tech. Mary Lynn Collins Callanan, Manager of Instructional Technology at the LHRIC, represented the CD-ROM era. She commiserated with teachers in the audience who struggled with her through that early tech phase. “I’m proud to say I’ve lived through every one of these eras,” she said. LHRIC Executive Director Dr. Ellen McDonnell represented the era of the overhead projector—procuring one from a local district and putting on a clinic of early 90s graphic calculator instruction, replete with whiteboard projections and dimmed lights.

The day’s itinerary included 29 morning and afternoon breakout sessions, many with an AI twist. In addition, Mr. Muir led a lunchtime session on using Purposeful Technology to Create Authentic Learning. Vendors throughout the expo provided personal contact with leading instructional technology providers.

 man helps woman with technology Mr. Muir’s address featured a touching recollection of a student named Sarah who fell asleep repeatedly one day in class. Amid his frustration, he came to learn of her personal struggles at home, including spending the prior night in the ER with a sibling who was ill.

“I feel this pit in my stomach even as I tell this story right now,” he said. “There wasn’t a magic little bow tied on at the end of that day, but it had a massive impact on the way that I taught from that day forward.”

Through multiple additional examples, Mr. Muir made the case for the impact of storytelling. We don’t forget good stories, he said, and even neuroscience supports the notion that stories create empathy

“Stories are part of what make us human beings,” he said, “so I think as instructors we have to figure out ways to harness this power.”

woman demonstrates vintage presentation technologyHe advocated for recognizing that students are not blank slates. He called on educators to be intentional about creating stories that cause students to look back and remember. As an example, he pointed to a unit on colonization that led him to invite a guest speaker to his class to talk about her work micro-financing in the African country of Burundi. That led to a class project modeled on that work that raised money eventually contributed to actual micro-finance initiatives there.

During this time, that same student, Sarah, began knitting and selling hats at school. Maybe the project inspired her, Mr. Muir said, or maybe she felt a connection to those in need. Something had awakened in her. Several years later, Mr. Muir ran into Sarah at an airport. She couldn't believe he remembered her; and she certainly remembered him. In fact, he was one reason why, he learned, that she had recently embarked on a career in teaching.

“This is like the hero’s journey,” he said. “That temporary amount of time I spent with Sarah back in 2010, that wasn’t temporary. That lasted far beyond that time.”

You could say it was more than just an era.

Check out Trevor's website at and his podcast at

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