New Paltz convenes second annual tech summit for educators

The SUNY New Paltz School of Education hosted about 150 teachers and education professionals, representing nearly 40 regional school districts, at the second annual SUNY Smart Schools Summit, a one-of-a-kind interdisciplinary conference designed to spark conversation and collaboration around new technologies in education.

The event debuted in 2016, when a team of faculty and staff led by Assistant Professor Kiersten Greene first set out to bring together teachers, administrators, higher education professionals and technology experts to talk about modern classroom tools and best practices.

“In order for teachers to be educated continuously, we need to work together across various fields,” Greene said. “There’s not another space in the state of New York where we’re having a P-20 conversation about technology integration.”

The Smart Schools Summit responds to the statewide enactment of the Smart Schools Bond Act, a $2 billion endowment to fund school districts’ technology purchases in schools across the state.

In order to be eligible for this funding, districts must submit an investment plan outlining how they plan to use new learning tools to serve their students.

“Teaching at its core is a practice profession, and like all such professions, teaching is strengthened when we come together across the continuum of practice to work toward common ends,” said David Cantaffa, assistant provost for educator preparation at SUNY. “Part of what excites me about the Smart Schools Bond Act is that it has the possibility to serve as a focal point through which to bring the profession together.”

As the primary supplier of qualified teachers to districts throughout the Hudson Valley, SUNY New Paltz has seized the opportunity to serve as a convener for these vital conversations about tech and pedagogy.

The 2017 Summit nearly tripled the teacher turnout from the previous year, and also welcomed into the conversation representatives from ed tech companies and government organizations like SUNY and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

“I was there for the first summit last year, and jumped at the chance to come back,” said Shannon Logan, coordinator of technology policy at NYSED. “I really feel that this conference brings together all of the pieces that we need to be focusing on: not just the technology itself, but the big picture questions these new tools ask us to think about, with collaboration between P-12 and higher education.”

Learn more about the SUNY Smart Schools Summit 2017 online.