Learning with new devices

Elizabeth Castillo, Reporter

Bakersfield College will host a conference on Learning Technologies on Feb. 5. The conference will include different speakers who are experts at integrating technology with education. The two keynote speakers of the event will be Dr. Michael Wesch and Dean Florez. The conference is primarily for educators although anyone is welcome to attend.

“People need to understand that education is changing,” said Amber Chiang, a member of the planning committee for the conference. “If you think PowerPoint is using technology, you’re behind.”

The conference will be free for all Bakersfield College and other Kern Community College District employees through the use of professional development funds. William Moseley, another member of the planning committee and the faculty coordinator of technology, innovation and professional development at BC, said that he hopes attendees of the conference will learn the importance of utilizing technology in the classroom.

“It’s important for educators to understand how technology can help students learn in powerful and tangible ways,” said Moseley.

Michael Wesch, the first keynote speaker of the event, is an associate professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University. Wesch was named an Emerging Explorer by National Geographic, has won a US Professor of the Year award from the Carnegie Foundation and has been featured in Wired magazine.

Wesch said that he hopes to address the idea that utilizing social media in the classroom does not automatically create a connection for students and teachers, but teachers must influence students to find joy within the learning process.

“What is needed more than ever is to inspire our students to wonder and to nurture their appetite for curiosity,” he said.

Wesch will also be presenting on Feb. 4 at BC’s indoor theater. While his speech during the conference will focus on education and teaching, his lecture on Feb. 4 will be geared toward a more general audience and will present the effects technology has on cultural interactions.

“For the presentation on Feb. 4, I will be putting on my anthropologist hat and analyzing the key trends and dynamics operating at this particular cultural moment,” he said.

Florez will be speaking only on Feb. 5. Although known for his work in politics, Florez is now the president and chief executive officer of The Michelson Twenty Million Minds Foundation. The organization specializes in providing free textbooks online via OpenStax College and would like teaching professionals to create their own material for others to use.

The planning committee hopes that attendees of the conference will learn how important it is for technology to be used effectively in the classroom so that students can have a better and more personal learning experience. There will also be a live feed of the event which will be posted to BC’s website. Viewers can access the conference page after using the About BC pull-down menu. The live stream is free to watch and viewers can ask questions to speakers via twitter using #bclearns or the chat box that will be connected to the live feed. The Learning Technologies conference will be held this year to inform educators of where education is headed.

“There is a place for technology in learning and it has a very important role,” Chiang said.