The CNMI Public School System, through its Office of Instructional Technology and Distance Education, hosted a first-ever, two-day virtual 21st Century educational technology professional development conference.
The conference featured acclaimed educator, author, and speaker Matt Miller; Dr. Riya Nathrani, 2022 Teacher of the Year; and Jed Sta. Theresa, Rita H. Inos Junior/Senior High School student leader and student representative to the CNMI State Board of Education.
Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada opened the event, extending his support and gratitude for the role that technology plays in improving the classroom experience of students. “We need to meet our learners, our Zennials and Gen X’s, where they are and use their platform, which is largely technology, to help them learn and grow.”
BOE member Herman Atalig extended support as well. “I am excited and thrilled for the opportunity to see technology being used to support educators from public and private schools to truly prepare our students for the future.”
A highlight of the event were keynote speakers Nathrani and Sta. Theresa.
Nathrani took viewers on a journey to the past and the present and provided a pedagogical framework for using technology to enhance and support the work of educators. Sta. Theresa spoke about the role technology played in enhancing his school experience and impressed educators by showing how he has leveraged technology to support his learning about engineering and design through 3D printing. He also showcased new technology innovations via virtual reality as he transformed into an avatar.
CNMI educators from both public and private schools covered a wide array of topics and tools that they can implement in their classrooms to improve their instruction and provide a more meaningful learning experience for students. A total of 270 educators participated in the conference over the two days and many stayed engaged throughout the sessions. Each day consisted of four sessions, with eight sessions in all.
Miller showed teachers how they can successfully integrate technology, while also having them share how they use technology in different forms of instruction. Teachers learned new techniques, strategies, and practical ideas they can use to enhance the wealth of educational technology skills they already possess.
Dr. Bobby Cruz, director of Instructional Technology and Distance Education at PSS, gave a futurist perspective on teaching and learning. “It’s been 30-plus years since the introduction of the World Wide Web, and now the age of information technology is coming to an end, and the Era of Technology Experience & Digital Citizenship begins as Generation Alpha is born. We move into a world of social media coupling with augmented reality, machine learning, and artificial intelligence that is advancing faster than we can keep pace. What will our classrooms look like and how do we ensure that the tenets and values of our identity as Pacific Islanders remain? As the technology gives our students access to the world, it also gives the world access to our home islands and leveraging technology in this reciprocal way is equally as important.” (PR)