Last weekend I had the opportunity to represent Edcite at the CESI (Computers in Education Society of Ireland) conference in Galway, Ireland. CESI is a great organization that brings people together to collaborate on how we can best use technology in the education world. The people that I watched present, and the ideas that came from it, were impressive and energizing.
While at the conference, I was very struck by what our keynote speaker, Dr. Daithí Ó Murchú, stated… Fortune favours the brave. (For those reading from America, I did not misspell favour—over here it has a “u.”) I think that in education and in my experience as a teacher, sometimes changing our ways of doing something can be scary if not just annoying—but when you decide to take a leap of faith that something might actually change your teaching practice for the better…well, that’s when the fortune part comes in.
Before I fully discuss the conference and my major takeaways, I want to better explain how I got to present about Edcite in Ireland. I am from Northern California, where Edcite is currently based, and taught for Teach For America in the Mississippi Delta (Arkansas side) at a KIPP school. After Teach For America, I decided to move to Ireland and see where the Irish Sea would take me—and that’s when I realized how much I missed the education world. I found out about Edcite through an email asking if I was interested in making content for a website that would help teachers and students. I was all about reducing teacher work load while helping increasing student learning…so I got on board. The more I created content for the site, the more I became very invested in connecting teachers with this gold mine of free resources—but not just American teachers, the teachers I knew here in Ireland.
We took one of those brave steps and said, what if we began intentionally expanding into Ireland? I was told that I could explore the opportunity here in Ireland, see what types of things teachers need and want from Edcite.
We started a specific landing page for Irish teachers. On this page we have tried to show that we are beginning to take the steps to make this site even more helpful to the Irish educator. We recognize that Irish teachers are held to the Irish Curriculum and not Common Core, so we have begun to tag assignments specifically with the Irish objectives covered.
Now, this is not at all necessary for any teacher anywhere to use the site. Regardless of where you teach and what you teach—you can use the site. You can search, not by the objective, but by the specific content (e.g. fractions or theme). You can create content on your own and tag it with whatever objective you would like. These steps aren’t designed to make the site accessible to teachers internationally, because frankly, it already is—they’re for improving our site in regards to reducing teacher workload.
I wanted go to this conference in Galway to learn more and open a conversation about how we can improve Edcite to better meet the needs of teachers. I was able to present at the Teach Meet on Friday night. We had the whole night live streaming so other educators could be part of the fun. This also meant my biggest fan, my mother, could watch from California. Throughout the conference, fellow educators engaged with @Edciteteam on Twitter, which was a great experience– I’d recommend everyone join in the fun!
My biggest takeaway from the conference is that there are a ton of people working to do what is best for kids and are open to constantly evolving their practice as technology continues to offer more great resources and opportunities for the classroom. Is Edcite a perfect resource? No, just like anything new, it is evolving based on the feedback we receive. It was great to hear all kinds of feedback so we can continue improving the site to help teachers and students.
I think it takes courage to decide to expand our focus, but if in the end more people benefit, that certainly sounds like fortune to me. Fortune favours the brave.
Julia Sweeney, although currently working for Edcite in Ireland, is originally from Roseville, CA and went to University of the Pacific. She joined the Teach For America Delta Corps in 2011, where she taught middle school English and American History. She has a passion for education and exploring the vast potential technology offers education systems, worldwide.
Note to any Irish Teachers: Reach out if you’d like to sit down and go through the site, give any feedback, or brainstorm ways you can use Edcite in your class! You can reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @juliasween.