Highlights from MACUL16

The MACUL (Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning) conference is one of the premier events in Michigan, bringing together educators from across the state, and nationally to talk about how technology can advance education.

colleencameronThis post highlights a couple of sessions from the conference, captured by Colleen Cameron, Systems Analyst, in the eLearning and Emerging Technologies department at GVSU.

Iteration and Innovation Drives Transformation

D1_1-KeynoteJaimeCasapsm Jaime Casap, Chief Education Evangelist, Google, Inc. kicked off MACUL with some great questions to help change the way we think about education. Some of my favorites are highlighted below:

 “What’s the right education system that we need for the different economy we’re facing?”

In today’s globally connected economy, the need for advanced skills continues to grow (and change). As we look to the future, what skills do students need and how can we best educate students in a global way? What is the best combination of soft-skills that can be informed by computer literacy?

“What’s the role of technology?”

Generation Z is a global, social,  visual and technological. They have unlimited access to information, but that information isn’t useful until it is converted into intelligence.

“Collaboration is HOW problems are solved. …Real collaboration is the ability to

  • listen
  • ask good questions
  • change your mind
  • build consensus”

When thinking about the future and working with students, it’s helpful to change your question – instead of asking kids, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, ask “what problem do you want to solve?” Then, provide the skills needed to solve any problem.

Iteration consists of success and failure” – there is no end point.


Sustainable Innovation: Successful Strategies for Schools, Not Startups

Presentation materials from the session are available on Google drive.

Elson Liu, Director of Integrated Technology Systems, Plymouth Canton Community Schools

Elson began by quoting Simon Sinek’s model of “What > How > and Why”. In businesses, marketing the “Why” is really what drives people to purchase a product. The best example of this is Apple. When you see an Apple commercial, they’re not marketing their device, they’re marketing a lifestyle of innovation and design. Think of how boring it would be if Apple only marketed the “What”: For example, “Here is our new phone, which is slightly larger than our last phone.”

With education, it’s important to know the “why” – your destination.  If you know the “why”, then the device you’re using doesn’t matter. It’s important not to mistake the device for the innovation – because the device will constantly change and improve (the “fail forward” theory). Education is the real innovation.

Lessons to learn from current technology trends:

  • Devices are designed to fail fast.
  • Consumerization of IT – people have expectations of devices, which may differ when you bring them into the classroom (e.g. encountering web filters or firewalls).
  • Products will follow the market, not education.
  • No strategy will last forever.

Create time to learn, and space to take risks.

“Innovation requires risk.”


Additional presentations included the following: