By Thomas Jenkins
SAN BERNARDINO—Early on a crisp Friday morning November 18th, teachers from the Catholic schools of the diocese converged onto Aquinas High School’s campus for the second annual TRUE Tech Conference.
This hands-on professional development, technology conference was funded by Caritas Telecommunications with the sole purpose of empowering Catholic school educators with 21st century skills. The TRUE Tech Conference featured a group of presenters from many well-known names in technology. Vendors such as Apple Educational Development Executive, Microsoft, Gradelink, Atomic Learning, Amplify, Edthena, MackinVia, Eduscape and Everfi lent their time in presenting breakout sessions for this event.
Teachers began their conference experience with an opening prayer from Father Erik Esparza, JCL, and a thought provoking keynote session by Sabba Quidwai entitled; Are you Indispensable: A Design Thinking Approach to Education. Quidwai’s exhilarating talk challenged the current pedagogical understanding of how technology is utilized in the classroom.
“We don’t often see ourselves as the designers of learning experiences, of the environments, of the schools that we wish to create. We are constantly looking to other people to create those changes,” Quidwai said during her address. “I believe the only people who are really going to be able to bring about the changes we need to see in our school are teachers. The challenge is that we cannot do this alone. Innovation is a team sport.”
Moving from the tone-setting keynote, teachers had the opportunity to attend three breakout sessions of their choice. Each breakout session was developed to ensure that participants could begin implementing the presented material as soon as the session was over. Teachers would conclude their TRUE Tech adventure by convening in the Aquinas gym for closing prayer and a raffle; which included a 45 inch TV, wireless keyboard and mouse, iPads, LocknCharge charging baskets, iPearl iPad cases, Common Sense Media T-Shirts, and other prizes.
TRUE Tech, which stands for Teaching Resources Utilizing Education Technology, was developed out of the need to give Catholic school teachers in the Diocese the opportunity to attend an educational technology training conference in the same vein as the well-known CUE (Computer Using Educators) and ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conferences, but closer to home and free of charge.
Without the donations and support of the Caritas Telecommunications Board, the Office of Catholic Schools, the Department of Communications, the various vendors, and volunteers (especially those from the Diocese of Orange); many teachers would not have the opportunity to attend this kind of conference. TRUE Tech is a great example of how Catholic education is embracing change and preparing teachers and students for 21st century Kingdom living.
Thomas Jenkins is the Educational Technology Specialist for the Diocese of San Bernardino.