Sally Norton-Darr, Educational and Assistive Technology Consultant

A ‘Joy’ful Experience: GSuiteEduTalk events

This week we have a guest blog post from Sally Norton-Darr, an Educational and Assistive Technology Consultant from Virginia, who shares her experience of attending a recent GSuiteEduTalk event. GSuiteEduTalk is an interactive day of learning hosted by Texthelp, which brings together local educators and edtech experts to discuss practical tools and tips for literacy in the G Suite for Education environment.

How often have you attended a professional development opportunity that you didn’t want to end?

It doesn’t tend to happen that often, but for me, despite the fact that I strayed out of my traffic comfort zone to brave the city commute, that’s how I felt when I attended Texthelp’s GSuiteEduTalk event in Arlington, VA. The ‘Texthelpers’, much like their software, happily managed to meet my needs and deliver on the promises of the title of the event: Literacy, UDL and Tech Tips for Educators.

Shrinking professional development budgets and opportunities often leave us as educators to our own creative cyber devices and networks, using platforms such as webinars, tweetchats and videos to expand our horizons and knowledge base. These virtual training experiences are all well and good but nothing beats the the ability to interact with a small group of friends and colleagues sharing knowledge, strategies, and ideas.

Just like G Suite for Education is the swiss army knife of meeting all learners’ needs, GSuiteEduTalk brings experts and peers together to meet all educators’ needs, and the one I attended even included a great lunch and door prizes!

I have witnessed, first-hand, the changes Texthelp has made in students’ lives, having delivered countless sessions and workshops in a school district where Read&Write has been deployed district-wide for several years. Even as a veteran user and supporter of this software, GSuiteEduTalk Virginia provided additional enlightenment to the way that Texthelp just “gets it” and also listens to their customers.

The other attendees and I were treated to four speakers, each with their divergent perspectives on how to best meet all learners’ needs. Two different school district representatives detailed the distinct ways they used Texthelp products in their schools and showcased their documented successes.

The attendees were also honored to have acclaimed UDL expert (and one of my heroes), Joy Zabala, spend some time discussing conceptual solutions to meeting the needs of all learners, which was the perfect ‘umbrella’ for the remaining speakers. I have been fortunate to hear Joy speak many times, but her practical wisdom never fails to inspire me.

One quote she cited, which I will use in the future was “Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, compute, and communicate using visual, audible and digital materials across disciplines and in any context,” from the International Literacy Association.

Digest that definition for a minute….and you will soon realize that G Suite for Education is the GPS to guide students around the barriers to their learning, providing ways to achieve literacy, knowledge, and understanding.   

The day was topped off by Kathleen Colburn, a ‘Texthelper’ who demonstrated some of the fabulous new features of Texthelp’s products and also introduced WriQ and EquatIO, two jaw-dropping newcomers to the Texthelp product family. Attendees were also provided with free access to the tools for their own use.

My experience of attending #GSuiteEduTalk Virginia reinforced the need for us all to embrace the diversity of our learners with a suite of tools, which will help them in their learning journey.

I’d highly recommend attending one of these events if there’s one running in your local area. What a day!



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