Liz Davis | Belmont Hill School

Name: Liz Davis (Website, @lizbdavis)
Organization: Belmont Hill School
Current title: Director of Academic Technology
Selected accolades: EdCampIS organizer, EduCon presenter

 

What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?

Curiosity and a love of learning for learning sake are extremely important to have in a rapidly changing world. You can’t be afraid to fail, especially when working with technology. You have to be willing to click all of the links and explore all of the possibilities of a tool without being afraid you will break something.


For a teacher looking to use technology to connect with students, enhance learning or embrace 21st century skills, where do you suggest one begin?

I think Twitter and Classroom20.com are both great resources for teachers looking to connect with others who are integrating 21st century skills into their teaching.

 

What is the best part of your job?

I love wearing so many hats. I work with faculty to help them integrate technology in their classrooms. I teach my own classes (7th grade English, Digital Video and Digital Journalism), so I can practice what I preach. I get to make choices about purchasing software and hardware. I am able to travel to conferences and learn with and from people all over the world. I also direct the middle school play, advise the school newspaper and the upper school improv club and coach the middle school crew team.

 

How did you get started with Edcamps?

I attended my first edcamp-like un-conference in 2007 when I went to the first Edubloggercon run by Steve Hargadon. From then I was hooked. I went on to organize the first annual Edubloggercon-East in Boston with Lisa Thumann in 2008. When Dan Callahan (founding organizer of the first “edcamp”) needed help organizing the first edcampBoston, of course I said Yes.

Last year I could not attend NAISAC and, as I followed the Tweets from the conference, it occurred to me that it would be great to create an un-conference experience for independent school educators. Connecting it to the NAISAC conference seemed like a good idea. I tweeted it out and edcampIS was born. I hope edcampIS will follow NAISAC to different cities each year (the way Edubloggercon follows the ISTE conference).

The best part about un-conferences, for me, is the spontaneous nature of the experience. Because we post our sessions on the day of the event, we have the opportunity to hear from people who might not have presented or been accepted to present at a typical conference. Also, since the sessions are decided then and there, the topics are timely and relevant, rather than 3 – 6 months old (when typical conferences request their proposals). Finally, the fact that the event is free and held on a weekend means the people who show up usually WANT to be there (rather than being sent by someone else). All of this adds up to an incredibly energizing day of learning. Obviously, I’ve become a huge fan!

I am really looking forward to attending edcampIS in Seattle on March 3rd. It has been amazing to me to organize this conference from 3,000 miles away. It would not be happening if hadn’t been for Ben Lee and The Northwest School’s generous donation of their space, and local orgainzers, Jac de Haan, Anthony McGrann and Greg Bamford who have done all of the serious legwork on the ground in Seattle. I can’t believe we are less than 3 weeks away from the big day!!

 

What was your path to your current position?

I started my career in education almost 20 years ago, as a 6th grade math, science and English teacher in a public middle school. Since then I have worked in a K-8 school and a high school as a technology integrator as a research assistant at TERC, an educational research center, as a professional development facilitator at Tom Snyder Productions, and as a writer and editor for a textbook developer. All of these experiences let me to my current position as Director of Academic Technology at an independent, grade 7 – 12,  all boys school outside of Boston, MA.

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