SXSWedu: At the Helm, Women’s Impact in EdTech

The next session I’m attending is one near and dear to my heart, “At the Helm: Women’s Impact in EdTech.” Hosted by the women of EdTechWomen.

“EdTechWomen was inspired by women’s influence in the field of education. Several great platforms exist for women in technology, however we noticed that they did not attract many women in education, particularly educators. EdTechWomen brings together women and their supporters across the vast education ecosystem and gives them a place to connect.” – EdTechWomen “Our Story”

I’m excited to be in a room with such impressive, thoughtful, and forward thinking women in a field that is often dominated by men. This panel hosts several women from across the country.

Amy Burvall and I had the opportunity to meet at the last iPad Summit. You can check out a lot of what Amy does on YouTube. Amy uses video parodies to help promote her history teaching. Additionally, she encourages her students to play with video and social media. Amy highlights that the key and joy in making something is sharing it. You must learn forward, produce, and participate. This is not only for her own work, but also for her students. She used this opportunity to teach students how to cultivate their positive digital presence – how can you be “googled well?” This way, she could move students from being knowledge builders to knowledge creators. This way students aren’t just cataloguing their knowledge, they’re “contributing to knowledge.” This allows not only Amy, but her students to share their passions online. Amy challenges us all to “embrace transparency” and to know that we don’t have to be perfect, we must “let go of our fears.”

Our next speaker is Luz Rivas from DIYgirls. Luz highlights the fact that there is a prevailing attitude that “girls aren’t interested in STEM.” However Luz, as many of us, have an interest in technology but find ourselves outside of the comfort levels of our peers, parents, an teachers. As such, she created DIYgirls to encourage young women in the STEM fields. She has also been inspired by the maker movement and the role it plays in encouraging young people to employ engineering tools in their “real life.” Going back to her old elementary school, she created a maker space and started an after school program for fifth grade girls who were able to use real tools and make things like video games and other hardware tools.

Our next speaker Joan Hughes, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Learning Technologies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her focus is on how mentorship puts the “Ed” in “EdTech.” She argues that mentorship is the key catalyst for student success. Any of us that have had an effective mentor understand the truth behind this statement! Joan highlights the success of several of her students and the role that mentorship has played in their own success. They all mention that mentorship was key to their continued success in their education as well as career. Dr. Hughes argues that mentorship is key in ensuring student success, especially for those who are underrepresented in their fields.

I wish I could stay longer at this panel, but there are so many activities at SXSWedu that I must head off to a demonstration! I highly encourage you to check out EdTechWomen as well as the presenters that I have highlighted here.

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