Big names in educational technology, from bestselling authors to White House officials to superstar CTOs, gathered this week in Washington, D.C. for the annual conference hosted by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).
Speakers included U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, author Daniel Pink, Coachella Valley Unified School District Superintendent Darryl Adams, and several other luminaries in the field.
“You’re in such an amazing position,” Smith told the crowd of edtech leaders during the opening plenary session. “You guys are connecting our children and the talent of the future.”
Smith offered examples of innovative educational ideas from all over the world, from indigenous groups building floating makerspaces in the Amazon to kids teaching the New Orleans Police Department how to code.
“Makerspace is a whole movement,” she said. “Why don’t we have them in all our schools? Why isn’t this something that kids in detention are required to do?”
“You have the power to do that,” she told the leaders.
She also encouraged the education experts in the room to seek each other out through tech meet-ups in their towns and cities.
“You can go to these and say, ‘I’m trying to fix schools, I’m trying to get wired, I need your help,'” she said. “These are the techies in your community. Go get the curriculum, the smart city, the fab lab, and connect to those resources.”
Winners of the NextGeneration Leaders program, co-sponsored by CoSN and EdScoop, were also unveiled during a special awards ceremony on Monday afternoon. Winners are Andrew Neiburg, Michele Eaton, Travis Eldridge, Nathan White and Roshni Lakhi.
Aileen Owens, the technology and innovation director for South Fayette Township School District in Pennsylvania, and Kevin Schwartz, technology officer for learning and systems at Austin Independent School District, were named CTO of the Year.
Popular topics included student data privacy, one-to-one initiatives, Bring Your Own Device programs, and educational technology policies.
Digital equity was also a major theme this year, and large school districts as well as rural, small districts were represented at the conference. CoSN CEO Keith Krueger spoke about closing the homework gap, and released new statistics about how much access kids have to high-speed broadband outside of their classrooms.
This story was updated on 4/6/16.