EdTech Hidden Gems for Indiana Schools — HECC Highlights

Thus far in this series, we’ve been working up through foundation layers of the edtech stack. Today we look at the return of HECC!

HECC 2021

HECC is Back, Baby!

It’s been two years since I walked into Union Station in downtown Indianapolis for the annual get-together of Hoosier Educator Computer Coordinators (HECC). Never before has the organization’s name had so much patina. We’re doing so much more in edtech than coordinating computers. But coordination is something that has likewise never been so in demand. And it’s reflected in a quick stroll through the exhibitor halls and thumbing through the agenda and reviewing session titles and presenters. Cybersecurity, eSports, leading through change, managed service providers, blended learning, changes from the IDOE and the use of myriad tools, all topics we’ve been discussing for years. But it hits different now, as the kids say. Like the chalk of the batter’s box near home plate by the end of the third inning, campus lines are all but blurred as learning takes place anywhere, anytime. Directors of technology are here to learn new tips, meet new vendors, but more than anything, catch up with their cronies.

In the entranceway, I immediately saw plenty of familiar faces. Talking to Phil Clauss of Pike County Schools and Will Hubbard of Brownstown Schools, who volunteer to make the HECC Conference one of the nation’s best statewide edtech conferences, they both agreed that seeing their friends again was the highlight as they opened the registration doors. Another HECC leader, Jenna Cooper of Greenwood Schools, acknowledged the crew had a few last minute bugs to work out to bring the conference back, but once all was working smoothly, it felt great to be able to reconnect with peers from across the state on November 10-12, 2021.

The exhibit hall was filled with many of the familiar education brands, from local to international. Per usual, the vendor mix was predominantly IT-focused with hardware and networking solutions, which take a different hue this side of nearly two years of increased remote and blended learning. I was reminded of the Future Ready Schools Framework, and specifically, the “Robust Infrastructure” component as district technology leaders gathered swag and heard elevator pitches.

Services are just as important to an edtech budget as products. Regarding technology consulting and implementation, Brett Clark of RTI and Nathan Davidson of Five Star reported their companies are staying busy supporting the increased technological demands on district personnel.

There were plenty of pragmatic sessions showing educators how to use specific tools or discussing the most current trends where edtech can support teaching and learning. CIESC’s own, Lena Darnay presented the origin story for our Keep Indiana Learning initiative with her teammate, Martie Hoofer.

The Indiana Department of Education staff were peppered throughout the agenda, communicating their statewide support for rampant change, presenting sessions for the diverse specialization of school staff roles. Dr. John Keller’s team presented digital learning updates, guidance on the mammoth Data Exchange project and the implications on school staff for best practices on using their incumbent tools to stay compliant through state reporting. The Indiana Learning Lab, a collaboration developed and launched in 2020, is another example of the sorts of investments that educators outside of a district are making to position the state as a premier advocate for best practices. From ready-to-go curriculum in the form of Common Cartridge downloads (universal to the most popular LMS), as well as professional learning, districts maximizing this resource by sharing with their team can recover scads of time and improve learning outcomes for teachers and students alike.

It would be remiss in a HECC review if I failed to mention the influence of Candice Dodson on the landscape of our profession in Indiana. Her memory was both intrinsically and extrinsically present throughout the event. From the return of the IDOE’s Summer of Learning series to tributes, and mentions throughout the entire event, HECC organizers went above and beyond, by giving Candice’s family the Legacy Award and making a donation to SETDA to recognize her influence and innovation in our profession.

When the pandemic shut down schools, there was an esprit de corps for contributing and making a difference. That is certainly still being felt in this edition of HECC. As state officials, vendors and learning organizations shape the landscape in a truly collaborative fashion, our profession is poised for positive transformation for Hoosier educators. On that note, the Hoosier EdTech Collaborative might be a fitting rebrand for this statewide network of dedicated professionals and the work they’re doing to bring together all those that can contribute to making teaching and learning as effective, efficient and engaging as possible. With a slate of upcoming opportunities being developed, HECC 2022 will be here before we know it.

As state officials, vendors, and learning organizations shape the landscape in a truly collaborative fashion, our profession is poised for positive transformation for Hoosier educators.

Looking Ahead

With the Fall semester giving way to Spring, the series will return in January with a best practices roundup for procurement of edtech to help leaders stretch their dollars further.

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