Nancy Penchev is the I LAB Instructor and Lower School Technology Coordinator for a K-5 campus in North Miami Beach, FL. I recently caught up with her to get her insights into EdTech over her 21 years as an educator. As the Lower School Technology Coordinator, she discovers and evaluates edtech solutions that students and teachers need. You can visit her website at http://www.nancypenchev.com/ and follow her insights over on Twitter.
SQ 32: Do you consider yourself an early adopter of EdTech?
NP: I am usually an early adopter, but sometimes I wait and see and join the 2nd wave. I love to explore and research and try new things...but I don't jump on board with everything. I was early with robotics, a few VR/AR things, but unless I can see my kids getting excited I don't invest time or money.
SQ 32: What edtech tools are you using now?
NP: Chromebooks and iPads are our tools. I have Wonder Workshop robots, Beebot, Ev3, Root, and other robots. Osmo is a huge hit. DoInk, Stikbot, and Chatterkids are our go to for broadcasting. PADLET is our favorite at school for sharing work. We have been loving Freckle, Prodigy, Dreambox, and Reflex in my math class!
SQ 32: So, how do you find out about new tools?
NP: I am heavily into Twitter. I also attend 5-7 conferences a year, both as an attendee and presenter. If someone at school asks me about a need, I search to find the best tool.
SQ 32: How do you decide what EdTech products to buy?
NP: I usually use all the free versions and if I see if we really need a tool. I buy very few apps...There are tons of super cool amazing products, but if we don't really need them...or I can do it with another tool or with paper, cardboard, etc...then I don't do it. We currently pay for DoInk (Check out a simple How-To guide she shared) and Padlet. With robotics, I do a lot of research before buying. If I can't find a place it fits logically, I don't buy them.
SQ 32: Do you evaluate new classroom tools through pilots?
NP: First, it has to be something that we don't have, or that we NEEEEEED desperately. Then, I’ll pilot things directly with kids. I know if they can figure it out and get excited about it, it will be successful. Then I have kids make how to guides for other teachers or students. It is so very important for teachers to know they don't have to know how to use an app or program, kids will figure it out. Let them teach you, release the power and your classroom will benefit so very much!