TLI: Technology Leadership Institute Recaps

TLI Event Recaps

Below are recaps of TLI events to remind us of the bright spots, to inform those who couldn't attend, and to simply serve as an artifact from a memorable series. Enjoy the stories. We look forward to seeing you at our next event.

Event Photos

About TLI

LHRIC's TLI program offers our districts the opportunity to come together to learn about, share ideas on, and discuss excellence in teaching and learning through technology. Our efforts each year are formed by our ability to expand upon our connections with vendors to allow you to experience new technologies and learn how they have impacted teaching and learning. The programs brings in new as well as established vendors to help you plan out and realize the vision of your school district.

Participation in TLI's member-only events gives you the best opportunity to stay abreast of the rapidly changing landscape of education technology. The goal of the TLI Leadership Series is to bring national conferences, topics, and discussions to local venues.  We continually provide opportunities to learn from and engage with renowned keynote speakers that are thought-provoking and inspiring. TLI also provided your district with the chance to network with peers are we explore each leadership topic as it pertains to current challenges and future planning. 

Virtual Keynote Series Recap · October 2021

TLI Virtual Keynote Series kicks off with an agent of change

Shawn Rubin launches 2021-22 series with 'Pathways to Personalization'

Shawn Rubin

The Technology Leadership Institute kicked off its 2021-22 Virtual Keynote series with a speaker who specializes in an area that is exceedingly relevant in education today: change. 

Highlander Institute Executive Director Shawn Rubin is his organization’s lead architect, ensuring their work serves students most of all. 

A former teacher, he says the language of personalized learning has been around for a long time. Personalizing schools and classrooms requires a new approach to the change process, said Mr. Rubin, who broke down his organization’s “Pathways to Personalization” Framework and the components necessary for school redesign through stories of successes and challenges.

He is a national thought leader on coaching and consulting approaches to classroom personalization and school change management. His days are split between providing on-the-ground support in districts supporting educators and leaders, and the creation and design of new processes for systemic educational change.

In his keynote, Mr. Rubin said that his own approach as a young teacher was centered on a personalized model, but he found that it didn’t scale beyond that level. There were not enough people who understood the vision or were informed enough to sustain it, he said. There was no systems-level lens, and families didn't understand enough to advocate for the approach.

Since 2012, his organization’s theory of change has evolved in response to research and lessons learned in the field. Starting with Blended Learning, his work moved to Personalized Learning that let students see themselves in their learning. Along the way,  in studying the impact of what was working, “we weren’t pleased with what we saw,” he said. 

The approach didn’t put enough emphasis on safe spaces for students, their lived experiences and on building academic mindset. 

“If we had been focused in on that the last 20 years, I don’t think we would have had as many challenges during the pandemic,” Mr. Rubin said.

His focus today is on the processes of getting to our aspirations as educators. He said he is shocked by how little opportunity there has been to restart coming out of the remote learning period and returning to in-person instruction. We realized, he said of his organization, students and families actually didn’t have the skill sets to succeed in a virtual setting.

“When we think about perspectives, we’re talking about how capable and supported a student is to be successful in the individual learning environment that they find themselves,” he said.

Virtual Keynote Series Recap · January 2022

TLI Keynote: Leading with Evidence

Insights into the use of data science in education

 Alex J. BowersArtificial Intelligence and Data Science practices are getting increased attention in the field of K-12 education, but research shows these things may have had less of an effect than expected so far on instructional improvement.

So says Alex J. Bowers, a Professor of Education Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the featured guest speaker at the Jan. 28 Technology Leadership Institute Virtual Keynote Series event. 

Professor Bowers's address was titled “Leading with Evidence and Data in Schools: How Data Visualization, AI, Pattern Analytics, and Data Science can Inform Evidence-Based Improvement Cycles.

Citing ample media coverage of data science in education and record capital investment in educational technology companies—up 1,600% in the last decade, including $8.3 billion pumped in by venture capitalists last year—Professor Bowers detailed his research into data science and offered warnings and advice regarding what works and what isn’t working.

“Some of the problems that I’m seeing are that AI and data science practices continue to gain increasing attention across education, these ‘AI in Ed’ conversations that we see in the media a lot,” Professor Bowers said. “There are many recommendations to increase the use of data dashboards in schools, yet the research to date shows little effect of data dashboard use on instructional improvement.”

Professor Bowers helps school leaders use the data they already collect more effectively to direct limited resources to meet specific student needs. His research focuses on the intersection of effective school and district leadership, organization and HR, data-driven decision making, student grades and test scores, student persistence, and dropouts. 

His work also considers the influence of school finance, facilities, and technology on student achievement. Professor Bowers studies these domains through the application of data science, and big data analytics, such as data visualization analytics, machine learning, multilevel and growth mixture modeling, and cluster analysis heat map data dashboards.

He said that last year the U.S. Department of Education found that there were only three online instructional technologies that work. All three are free platforms. And yet, across K-12 education there are many more technologies in use even as research shows they may not be so widely used by teachers or proven very effective at improving instruction.

Still, education is seen as a growth industry for machine learning and artificial intelligence. Data dashboards are used widely by districts, but he asked whether they address educators’ needs, and are they accurate?. If so, he added, what is the evidence? 

Professor Bowers proposed using educational leadership data analytics: a combination of evidence based improvement cycles, data science & data analytics and educational leadership. The idea, he said, is to help leaders become facilitators of evidence-based conversations.

We need to develop data that meets teachers’ needs, he said. Data scientists need to know what that is because teachers won’t necessarily know what to ask for. 

For constructing a useful data dashboard, he referred to the “Four A’s of Early Warning Indicator System algorithms: Accurate—High accuracy compared to benchmarks; Accessible—Easy to understand and open to investigation; Actionable—Predictor can be used to take action; and Accountable— Regularly checked for bias, audited and inspected in collaboration with the communities for which they are predicted.

Take his course!

Professor Bowers offers an online, four-week course through Teachers College for teachers and administrators on how to facilitate evidence-based conversations in schools. “Leading with Evidence in Schools: Data and Research Literacy" runs March 7 through April 3. The course recurs in July and November.

Active-Con Recap · March 2022

Active-Con Invigorates Educators with Captivating, Inspiring Discussions

 The joy and engagement of Active-Conreturned in-person to the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center for the first time in two years. Keynote speakers Dr. John Spencer and Dr. Robert Dillon wowed audiences with thought-provoking and dynamic presentations about student choice, divergent thinking, physical space and sustainable design.

Active-Con is the LHRIC’s annual hallmark event of its TLI series. It highlights the intersection of technology, instructional design, and active and flexible learning spaces. Now in its sixth year, the event welcomed 53 educators to the Harrison campus on March 4 and hosted another 32 virtually.

Dr. John Spencer KeynoteThe morning kicked off with Dr. Spencer’s humorous yet introspective keynote, “Navigating the Maze of an Unpredictable World.” His talk was founded on a statement that one of his middle school teachers said to him: “When you hide your voice, you rob the world of your creativity.”

As a student, Dr. Spencer – a current college professor who previously taught middle school for 12 years – was a self-described nerd who felt invisible. One day, a teacher asked him to do a special History Day Project. Despite being shy and unsure of himself, he ended up competing at the district, state and national levels.

“That was the first time I owned my learning,” said Dr. Spencer, who created a project about baseball and the civil rights movement. “It was the first time that I had voice and choice. For the first time ever, I could organize my own research. I was working harder than I ever had before… And it wasn’t fake. It was real and authentic.”

During his keynote, Dr. Spencer encouraged educators to give their students some freedom. For example, as a middle school student, not only did selecting the topic of his project engage and inspire him, but so did the freedom to organize his work the way that suited him best. Instead of creating notecards and filing his work into a binder, he used a spreadsheet, which worked better for him.

“I believe to my core that classrooms should be bastions of creativity and wonder,” said Dr. Spencer, adding that the act of creation is a magical experience. “Meaningful projects are something that every single student deserves access to.”

He continued to say that a learning transformation is always taking place. While in school, students are taught a typical path forward: work hard in school, graduate from college and climb the corporate ladder. However, due to ever-changing technology, the path has transformed into a maze.

While the future of technology is uncertain, educators must empower students now. Students should chase their curiosity and be encouraged to ask questions.

“It’s the idea of chasing your geeky interests,” Dr. Spencer said. “It’s not about the product you create but the process you use.”

However, not everything will go according to plan, he said. Throughout his time creating his History Day Project, he felt lost while performing research and he made mistakes while presenting. During his keynote, Dr. Spencer asked educators to remember that every human is “always under construction,” adding that “we’re always trying things and doing things differently” to be at our best.

“In a world of constant change, our students will need to be adaptable,” he continued. “It’s not that we want students to embrace failure - we want them to see that it’s okay to fail forward.”

Despite the potential to make mistakes, trying new things and sharing your passions with others are positive steps forward in learning. To grow as learners, students must be given opportunities to share their work with an audience. Dr. Spencer listed its benefits: students will grow more empathetic, they embrace constructive criticism, they become fearless, they work harder, they develop a growth mindset, they connect the learning to their world, they find their creative voice and they engage in iterative thinking.

“Empathy is a deeper definition of empowerment,” he said. “To truly be empowered means to move beyond yourself and go feel what other people are experiencing.”

 Dr. Robert Dillon in Breakout SessionThe second keynote featured Dr. Dillon, who passionately shared his presentation, “Sustainable Space Concepts that Will Survive the Stress Test of COVID.” His talk focused on the notion that students are influenced by where they learn.

Following several months of virtual learning, students and staff members returned to in-person and hybrid learning. Schools battled against a variety of COVID mitigation strategies that, while beneficial for health and safety, were not conducive to learning. For example, increased ventilation in classrooms meant that students were often freezing, especially during the winter months. In addition, plexiglass shields made it hard to hear and lowered personal connection.

“It wasn’t how they wanted to learn,” said Dr. Dillon, who has been an educator for two decades, focusing on conceptual design, active learning and healthy buildings. “Don’t let us forget the lessons we learned of what we don’t want… We should continue to make sure that the idea of concurrent learning is happening.”

Living, teaching and learning through the COVID-19 pandemic has caused people to “feel off,” not be at 100% and not be learning at their best. The added stress resulted in poor academics, less growth and increased absenteeism.

“If we don’t make changes and continue to move things forward, we’re going to keep having those feelings,” said Dr. Dillon, a longtime educator and thought leader who has served as teacher, principal and director of innovation. “Where kids learn has been causing learning loss for decades.”

He explained that if students are in classrooms that do not promote learning, they will not learn. One solution is through neuroarchitecture - buildings or spaces that are created to increase cognitive capacity, improve memory and boost mental stimulation.

Simple ways to tackle the problem include enhancing choice and agency for students, as well as creating more quiet spaces for students to refocus themselves. Dr. Dillon urged educators to reduce visual noise as “research says that this hurts kids.” He encouraged more time for children to draw and write, as it improves their memory, along with bringing natural elements into the classrooms, like natural-toned colors, which have been shown to lower stress and anxiety. In addition, Dr. Dillon urged that there be more productive movement in every classroom so that students do not have to sit in a chair the entire lesson.

“It’s not humanly possible to be still,” he said. “You can be quieter with the body, but you can’t be still. You need to give people the opportunity to move around.”

When creating a space, educators should design in partnership with students, not only for them. Making them part of the process gives planning committee members direct access to feedback on what is working for students and what is not. Dr. Dillon added that “learning spaces should be a human resources priority,” as educational environments largely impact students and staff members’ efficiency and effectiveness.

With much emphasis on classrooms, Dr. Dillon said that hallways are also prime opportunities for learning. Schools can set up their halls like museums, offering students the chance to learn while they walk through. Children can be engaged if the information is interesting and relevant to them. For example, this could include mentioning what was on the site before the school was built.

In between the two keynote addresses, Dr. Dillon and Dr. Spencer each guided a breakout session twice. Dr. Spencer led “Divergent Thinking for Deeper Thought,” while Dr. Dillon conducted “Maximizing Spaces Using the Creative Constraints Protocol.”

 District Panel shares active learning ideasActive-Con concluded with a district panel discussion, which centered on sharing information about school districts’ new active learning spaces. The discussion featured educators from Pelham Public Schools, the Valhalla Union Free School District, the Brewster Central School District, the Chappaqua Central School District and White Plains Central School District.