University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Looking Back at the OEP Conference

In The View from the OEP on May 24, 2012 at 10:14 am

Last week, the OEP was host to a crowd of approximately 100 teachers, principals, legislators, school administrators, and practitioners from across the state, region, and country at our annual conference which was held at the Peabody Hotel this year in Little Rock. This year’s theme: Educational Technology.

Our morning session featured Dr. Richard Abernathy, Director of the Arkansas Association for Educational Administrators, who discussed the educational technology needs of the state from an administrative aspect. According to Dr. Abernathy, the greatest concern at the moment is the lack of broadband access across the state – especially for the more rural school districts.

We also hosted a panel of educators including Dr. Frank Holman, Superintendent of Lincoln Consolidated School District, Matt Colburn from KIPP Delta Collegiate Public Schools, and Dennis Beck from the University of Arkansas College of Education. These panelists provided first-hand accounts of how technology was being used in schools.

The late morning featured two speakers: Sundar Subbarayan from Khan Academy, and Bevil Wooding from Congress WBN. We heard from Bevil Wooding last week in a guest blog post, and Khan Academy received a substantial amount of press coverage after the conference. Sundar Subbarayan’s, Implementations Lead of Khan Academy, discussed the online video-instruction website that hosts over 3,200 instructional videos in math, science, and other academic subjects. During the talk, Mr. Subbarayan discussed the growth of the company, which in November 2010 only consisted of founder Salman Khan and one other employee. The 25-employee company has posted videos that have been viewed in 200 countries.Khan Academy Logo

Subbarayan noted that 30,000 views in April came from Arkansas. This number was 5,000 hits higher than January. We were happy to be hosting some of these teachers and students who utilize Khan Academy in the audience to further sing the praises of the organization.

For those in attendance who were unfamiliar with Khan Academy, Subbarayan concluded his talk by accessing the Khan Academy website and showing examples of video lessons, the interactive “hints” that users can access, and accompanying exercises that users can complete to further explore their knowledge of the subject. Additionally, he showed how all of this data can be tracked by teachers in order to individualize their lessons for students.

We closed the day with  a presentation of certificates for the highest achieving schools listed in our annual OEP Awards. Top performing schools on the benchmark and end-of-course exams in math and literacy were recognized before the crowd. For more information, including speaker presentations, visit the 2012 OEP Conference Web Page.OEP Award Recipients (photo courtesy of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

After the OEP conference, we hosted a post-conference summit on technology. This summit featured a panel of technology providers who presented and took questions from an invited audience. This discussion was quite lively. It was apparent after the discussion that there is a need for leadership to develop solutions to the broadband challenges in Arkansas.  For more details about this discussion, see our blog post here.

  1. I love Khan Academy, and my kids use it from time to time, almost always for the practice exercises. The videos are great for when they get stuck on a math concept.

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