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Creating a Conference for Educators by Educators: EdTechGZ

By Robert Bauer
Creating a Conference for Educators by Educators: EdTechGZ

2023 EdTechGZ conference attendees. (Photo source: American International School of Guangzhou)

In 2013 at the American International School of Guangzhou (AISG), China, we looked around and knew that exceptional things were happening in our schools. Unfortunately, there was no forum to share our successes with each other. As a solution, we developed the idea of a short conference for educators by educators. And, in the fall of 2013, 60 people from 10 schools came together for the first-ever EdTechGZ conference.

It was a simple event, free to attend, with crackers and coffee (later we would learn about sponsors and bigger snack offerings). Knowing how busy educators are, we intentionally planned for it to take place only in the morning, thus freeing up the afternoon. Even educators learn better when the environment is engaging, so the event was packed full of fun and learning. The first conference was a huge success with plenty of opportunities to learn from each other.

Over the next few years, EdTechGZ grew significantly. In 2019, we had 450 attendees from 60 different schools, and our sponsors included Apple and Microsoft. The team at Microsoft that built Forms came down from Beijing to introduce new features they were working on, and Apple gave a session on their new augmented reality (AR) technology.

This year, our first in-person conference in three years, focused on educational technology, innovation, inclusivity, and wellness (and included a brisket barbeque lunch!). Sessions covered a wide gamut of topics including safe zone training to support LBGTQ+ students, gamification, artificial intelligence for teaching and learning, and dozens more. 250 educators from 40 schools across Guangzhou and the Greater Bay Area attended, presented, facilitated, and helped organize the event. The sponsors brought in the latest cutting-edge technology and helped create sessions that are necessities for all educators. Most important was the wide variety of sessions offered by teachers from the schools that attended. This is something all conferences should consider, making the sessions relevant and bringing together two industries, education and technology.

We have continued to maintain the same conference formula that has contributed to the success of EdTechGZ, a short day, free to attend, with presentations and sessions focusing on educators, and of course, maintaining an element of fun.
We are indebted to all those people who come to EdTechGZ and share what is working for their students’ learning. Even though our conference is free, you can't put a price on that kind of learning opportunity.

Robert Bauer is the director of innovation and technology at the American International School of Guangzhou, China. His focus at the school includes the design and furnishing of innovative learning environments. He has led the adoption of collaboration and productivity platforms such as Microsoft Teams, OneNote, and Instructure's Canvas that empower all learners to make a positive impact. In addition to AISG, he has worked in Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.  

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