Good ideas, marketed globally
When educator Mark Giufre hears a good idea for incorporating technology into the classroom, he is eager to share it. Not just with colleagues who teach children with autism at Wildwood School, and not just with his professors and fellow students in the Saint Rose graduate program in educational technology.
Giufre goes BIG with good ideas – circulating them globally through his #hybrEdtech Twitterchat and his Educational Technology for All Learners Facebook page and blog, which has 35,000 followers. Giufre, leader of educational technology at Wildwood, is so jazzed about digital learning that he is planning a conference with the New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education,focusing on individuals with special needs.
“So many people are doing similar things and if we’re not talking to one another it’s just silos that never connect,” said Giufre, who expects to complete his master’s degree in educational technology at Saint Rose next spring. “It’s all about embedding technology into a strong educational framework to reach all learners and creating universal designs.”
Giufre was recently named an Apple Distinguished Educator, an honor that recognizes innovative uses of technology in education. He recently spent five days in Florida, along with the other honored educators at the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute.
True to form, he says the experience represents the beginning of sharing still more good ideas. “Being part of a community of distinguished educators is an opportunity to reach many more young people,” he noted.
An elementary school teacher for several years, Giufre began teaching children with autism and complex learning disabilities at Wildwood 10 years ago. He saw that technology grabbed the attention of many who were not served by the conventional teacher-led format.
Two years ago, Giufre became Wildwood’s leader of educational technology. He enrolled in the Saint Rose educational technology program in order to help navigate the constantly emerging digital tools. Though initially worried about returning to school, Giufre said Associate Professor Travis Plowman put him at ease.
One of the few programs in the country that meets standards of the International Society for Technology in Education, the educational technology program leads to a master’s degree and certification in educational technology – which give educators a leg up in the job market. The program is taught online, providing maximum flexibility to working teachers and a way to immediately apply what they learn.
After sending in a portfolio and essay to Apple about what he has learned, Giufre assumed he would not be tapped for the Distinguished Educator award. The vast majority of those who apply are not accepted. But Professor Plowman was not shocked that Giufre was.
“Mark is a highly capable technology integrationist whose creativity and innovation is evident. He’s always taking the lead in online discussions and sharing ideas with classmates,” said the professor. “It is a very prestigious award, but it is no surprise that Apple would recognize his innovative ideas.”