Elon University / Today at Elon / Innovation Council Grant to Support 2022 Elon Education Conference

Thanks to the grant, the Dr. Joe Watts Williams School of Education will host the conference, which will focus on inclusive technology tools and partnerships with multilingual students, families and communities.

Thanks to a $2,250 grant from Elon’s Innovation Council, current and future educators will be able to dive deeper into how to forge partnerships with multilingual students, families and communities, and how to integrate inclusive technologies into their classrooms.

The grant will support the 2022 Elon Education Conference, which will be held in the Dr. Joe Watts Williams School of Education on September 24. The conference, with a focus on “Transformative and Inclusive Technology Tools and Partnerships with Multilingual K-12 Students, Families, and Communities,” is designed to bring together current Elon students, local faculty, as well as Elon alumni in education for the hybrid conference that combines in-person and virtual presentations.

Alison Bryan, Director of the Learning Resource Center and Associate Librarian

The conference supports the Elon Innovation Council’s goal of fostering lifelong alumni partnerships through professional development, networking and learning opportunities that can create lasting connections between alumni and the university.

“We want our students to talk to practicing educators,” said Alison Bryan, director of the Learning Resource Center and associate librarian in the School of Education, who organized the conference with Assistant Professor of Education Nermin Vehabovich. “It helps them make that connection between theory and practice. It also benefits our local schools for local teachers to work and learn with each other.”

The Elon Innovation Council annually offers grants of up to $5,000 to Elon students, faculty and staff for innovative project proposals that support the goals and themes within Boldly Elon, the university’s 10-year strategic plan. Proposals can be centered around goals such as building interdisciplinary work on campus, increasing inclusion and belonging, supporting the internationalization of Elon’s campus, building local partnerships and connections with alumni and other areas.

The conference will follow a 2018 conference Brian co-hosted with Senior Lecturer in Education Erin Hone called the ElonEd Collaborative Tech Conference. A conference like this one will focus on better integrating new technologies into the classroom to encourage a higher level of student engagement.

Nermin Vehabovic, assistant professor of pedagogy

“The biggest piece of feedback we got was that people wished it was more than half a day,” Brian said of the 2018 conference. “We’re still seeing similar data from our students that technology continues to be an issue, but it’s different now because now students are always online. They’re looking for ways to integrate it more meaningfully—to take that experience and use strategies to build meaningful relationships.”

Specifically, the conference will look at how to use these technologies to support multilingual students and their families. It’s a topic of particular interest to Vehabovic, and one that teachers in surrounding schools continue to wrestle with. He has heard from students that when they do their practicums in local classrooms, they don’t feel well prepared to work with multilingual families.

The benefits of teachers being better prepared to work with multilingual students and their families go beyond these particular students, Vehabovic said. “A strategy that works effectively with multilingual students may benefit non-multilingual students,” he said. “If you’re in a bilingual classroom or an English-dominant classroom, all students benefit when there are strategies for using different languages.”

The day-long conference will feature 13 sessions on topics including assistive technology, teaching with instructional technology, developing diverse learning communities in the classroom, navigating the home-school relationship, and more. Brian and Vehabovich have leveraged the experiences of Elon alumni now in the classroom to benefit current students and local educators.

“I look at our alumni and want to use their experience,” Brian said. “We hope they have certain attitudes and beliefs that they put into practice that they can then share with students.”

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