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Sep 27 2018 - 08:00 PM
Michael Fricano II

Michael Fricano II is a Technology Integration Specialist at 'Iolani School, a private K-12 school in Honolulu, Hawaii. He also runs the EdTechnocation blog, where he shares EdTech ideas, resources, or other materials. Michael is a passionate proponent of technology and an active voice on the edtech Twittersphere. He has also created the giant DIY MergeCube, an AR tool that is normally the size of a Rubik's Cube. He has even made the files available to download for free so that anyone can recreate the project.

What inspired you to pursue a career in education and why are you so passionate about edtech?

My inspiration for becoming an educator is two fold. My mom was a special education elementary teacher and her dedication to the field is what initially paved my path into education. But I was also inspired to become an educator focusing on technology and edtech while I was in high school. I had an amazing technology teacher in high school where I learned website design, office applications, computer programming. She was another huge inspiration in my life. Her methods of teaching made me think that I could one day do that what she did.

Tell me more about your experience as a Technology Integration Specialist at 'Iolani School. What is your daily schedule like?

I started at 'Iolani School, which is a K-12 private school, with a 1:1 iPad program, back in 2013. For the past five years, I've served as a K-12 Technology Integration Specialist working in a team of three in the Education Innovation Lab (EIL). We worked directly with teachers in their classrooms, focusing on pedagogical support on 1:1 iPads, but also helping to introduce teachers to new forms of educational technology. For the past two years, I've specifically spent a lot of time and energy on exploring the use of virtual and augmented reality in our K-12 classrooms. I've led several projects on both the consumption and creation side of these emerging tools.

This coming school year (2018-2019) I'm transitioning into a new role at 'Iolani School, which will actually take me back to my roots as an elementary school teacher. I'll be serving as a K-6 Technology Integration Specialist and a classroom technology teacher. I'll also be working with our new Design Lab Teacher on the construction of a brand new combined K-6 makerspace at 'Iolani School that is estimated to be completely in 2021. I've very excited about these new opportunities!

We are only just now seeing how AR and VR can be used in education, how do you see this technology factoring into learning in the coming years? Why does it excite you?

VR and AR have huge potential in transforming the way our students learn on many different levels. As a simple way of describing AR and VR's potential in the classroom, I borrow the best explanation I've seen from the Google Expeditions Team. VR can take your anywhere and AR can bring anything to you.

With the ability for such tools to transport your students anywhere in the world and beyond and to bring any object you can think of (or create) into your classroom, the boundaries of your classroom expand exponentially. We no longer have to just dream of where we want to take our students, VR has the ability to take them anywhere. And AR can bring those ancient historical artifacts into our classrooms. This fascinates and inspires me to explore how these tools can be used in our classrooms.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions when trying to incorporate technology into schools, classrooms, or education in general?

Trying anything new in your classroom, not just technology, requires two things: patience and courage. When I work with teachers on integrating new technology in their classroom, patience is the key. The teachers I work with are all over the "integration spectrum," as I like to refer to it. Some are very hesitant and weary of trying something new, and with them I have to take small steps and move very slowly through the learning process. Others at my school are pioneers, and all they require is encouragement and technical support as they lead their students through something new.

I also preach what I think is most important: embrace the fear. Have courage to try something new and don't let it's failure discourage you from trying something else. This is also what we want our students to learn about life, so we need to embrace it ourselves!

You seem to have a very active social media presence, why is it important for educators to use social media and who are some of your favorite accounts to follow on Twitter?

I try to stay very active on social media because I feel like social media for me is my classroom. It's where I learn the most and connect with amazing people! Whether you are just a lurker or actively share, social media should be a part of every educator’s Personal Learning Network (PLN). In relation to AR and VR in education, these are my favorite Twitter peeps: @thevrpdocast, @jaimedonally, @amandafoxSTEM, @stevensato , @jamesmccrary, @geoparadigm, @cospaces_edu, @mergevr, @thejanusgroup, and @el_chakka.

Image: courtesy of Michael Fricano II

|By: Ryan Allen|1146 Reads