As technology continues to become more integrated into people’s everyday lives, new approaches to education are rapidly evolving to accommodate it. Since 1991, Ithaca College has been rising to meet the challenges of a changing world by hosting the annual Education Technology Day.
From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 19, the college will be hosting its 25th EdTech Day in the Campus Center to showcase emerging ways in which technology is impacting the world of education and beyond. The event, specific to the college, draws roughly 1,600 visitors yearly from the upstate and Central New York regions.
Local and popular national vendors such as Apple, AT&T and Dell often present their new technologies at EdTech Day. Several seminars by nationally acclaimed experts are also offered throughout the day, covering a broad range of topics from technology in the classroom to tips on starting up a new business.
This year, in honor of the 25th anniversary, the college will host nationally recognized and widely acclaimed speakers such as Wayne Brown, founder of the Center for Higher Education Chief Information Officer Studies Inc., and Jennifer Sparrow, senior director of Teaching and Learning with Technology at Pennsylvania State University. In addition, vendors, ranging from high-end companies showcasing classroom technologies to local companies presenting new 3-D gaming, will be present at the event.
Keith McIntosh, associate vice president of Information Technology Services and chief information officer at the college, was responsible for contacting and organizing sessions for these individuals, who he said made for much more distinguished presentations than those in previous years.
“Something significantly different this year was bringing in these featured speakers, and I was asked to call a couple colleagues of mine to come in and present,” McIntosh said.
He is also involved with the marketing of the event to national media publications, including Campus Technology Magazine and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Because of the important implications of events like EdTech Day, he said national attention could help to spark a greater interest in technology, in the classroom and elsewhere.
“Right now, I’m reaching out to national media publications because I feel that it’s truly a unique event,” McIntosh said. “Twenty-five years is a long time to be doing something. To have that evolution and consistency, and to have that be hosted in our own backyard for so long — and for free — is unheard of. There’s nothing like it within a 200-mile radius.”
In addition to the educational aspects the event has to offer, McIntosh said he is very excited to see and possibly get to handle some of the new gadgets companies are putting out, like the updated Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming platform, which will be showcased at the event. He said he is looking forward to thinking about the practical applications these new technologies have to offer.
David Weil, director of Enterprise Application Services at the college, was instrumental in establishing the first EdTech Day in 1991. Since then, he has been actively engaged in the event’s organization, and this year he is again playing a leading role. He said much has changed since the very first EdTech Day a quarter of a century ago.
“Back then, 25 years ago, commercial Internet didn’t exist, cellphones as we know them didn’t exist,” he said. “So technology was something new, and how people would use it for learning was a relatively new concept. It’s really evolved a lot since that time.”
Weil oversees many of the college’s student and faculty computing and support systems and is therefore heavily involved in the integration of technology into the campus experience. He said technology plays a growing and pivotal role in everything we do, especially in the realm of education.
“An event like EdTech Day creates an opportunity for people on campus to see technology that’s out there today and also get a sense of where things are headed in the future,” Weil said. “I think that helps inform us as to the possibilities surrounding how we teach and how we learn.”
Though the event has a focus on innovative education, he said all types of people with an interest in new technologies can benefit from the showcase.
“One of the things that I always like about EdTech Day is that it hits on many different levels,” Weil said. “There are students that benefit from seeing new technology and talking with vendors, and there are faculty and staff from Ithaca College and elsewhere that benefit from ideas about using technology in and out of the classroom.”
EdTech Day is also hosting a presentation by Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, a local company that helps startup businesses in the area to grow through collaboration, advisory support and resources.
Alec Mitchell ’12 currently works as Rev’s incubator coordinator. He manages the finances and membership of local companies within Rev and helps to coordinate workshops and presentations. At EdTech Day, he is presenting an introduction to the company and said he is hoping to promote the name.
“We’re letting people know that we exist in the community,” Mitchell said. “We’re showing that we are bringing together technology-based companies and people who are running startups all under one house.”
He said because of the growing presence of technology in today’s world, many of the companies that work with Rev are technology-based ones. That trend, he said, makes Rev the perfect company to showcase at the college’s upcoming event.
EdTech Day is open to all students, faculty and staff as well as to visitors both on and off the college’s campus. A full list of featured seminars can be found on the event page of the college’s website at http://www.ithaca.edu/edtechday/.