At the Intersection of Teaching and Technology: Driving Equitable Access — for Free

By Kelly Kincaid

California League of Schools logoToday, is exhibiting at the California League of Schools’ (CLS) annual Teaching with Technology conference held in Monterey, California. This year, the focus is “Harnessing the Power of Connected Learning”. To learn more, I reached out to the Director of Community and School Relations, Maryam Diaab Hall, for an interview. And while I took a walk on the beach — and my interviewee took her kids to the park — we chatted in a virtual conference room about what connected learning really looks like.

Tell me about the event this week.

Maryam: It’s our annual Teaching with Technology conference in Monterey. It focuses on teaching with technological resources. It’s for educators, administrators and leaders who are looking to find ways to incorporate the latest technology into the classroom, their organizational systems, their reporting and assessment and obviously Common Core is a big thing. They’ve moved to all online testing, so some want to know what other districts are doing. It lasts three days, and we should have about 400 people at the event.

Who do you have lined up to speak?

Maryam: We have three keynote speakers. On Friday, we have Alice Keeler, a Google-certified educator, blogger and published author. She will be talking about the seven stages of grief in a student-centered classroom.

On Saturday, we’ll hear from Rafranz Davis, a leader in digital learning, who focuses on equity and equitable access through technology in education. Davis’ presentation is entitled, “Creating Opportunities One Hashtag at a Time”.  Our closing session on Sunday will be led Joe Marquez, a technology coach, middle school science teacher and Google-certified innovator and trainer, taking on a great topic: “How to Impact a Classroom Full of Digital Natives”.

In addition to our featured speakers, we have over 80 educator-led breakout sessions presented by teachers and administrators from California, and neighboring states, presenting sessions on topics that range from using apps and programs in the classroom to using one-to-one devices to move up the SAMR (Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition Model, which offers a method of seeing how computer technology might impact teaching and learning) scale. And, of course, we have lots of exhibitors sharing their technologies — including

Sounds like a great line-up. My ear and my interest caught on the term “equitable access.” Based on your experience at CLS, how can technology promote equitable access to education?

Maryam: What we hear most in that regard is how students who might not have the opportunity to go on field trips — or take their learning outside of the classroom in a physical and experiential way — are able to use technology to bring those experiences into the classroom.

For example, we have a lot of educators that instead of penpals, do video chat pals to connect with students in other countries and other states. There are students that do research and volunteer/community projects with students in other areas as well. Google Earth is used all across the curriculum — such as in history and the sciences.

Tell me more about how students collaborate in and out of the classroom. 

Maryam: In regard to collaboration, students use Google Drive a lot to be able to share and collaborate — students are also being encouraged to use apps, such as WhatsApp, to connect with each other for free, outside of school. I imagine that would be an area where would be a really useful tool for students and teachers so that they wouldn’t have to physically meet in order to work on projects. That’s something that becomes a challenge, especially if you’re dealing with students from a variety of situations. Any of these types of open resources, like WhatsApp and, can really drive equitable access in education.

Is there anything else you would like to add about Teaching with Technology?

Maryam:  Yes. CLS will be running an AppLab based on PLAYDATE (People Learning and Asking Y: Digital Age Teacher Exploration), a sort of un-conference concept. The AppLab is a breakaway from sit-and-get sessions; it is a teacher-driven space to gather together and collaboratively explore tools. There are no presenters in the room, no experts and no agenda, just time and opportunity to get familiarized with technology tools in a more organic way.

Thanks for speaking with me, Maryam! is looking forward to participating. is a free platform for conferencing and collaboration. With dial-in numbers in 58 countries and counting, is the most recognized conferencing brand on the planet. In addition to HD audio conferencing and VoIP dial-in, users can meet online with free screen sharing and video conferencing for up to 1,000 participants. The App for Android™, iPhone® or iPad® is a quick and easy way to connect on the go without cost.


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