OFF TO THE RACES: EAST Initiative Hosts 2023 Seminar in Hot Springs

In 2023, EAST applied for and was awarded a three-year grant from the IMPAC Endowment through Arkansas Community Foundation. This grant helped provide technology training and professional development to EAST facilitators throughout Arkansas for their 2023 seminar held at Oaklawn.

The “Off to the Races” event was three full days including 39 unique breakout sessions with 45 presenters for 215 EAST facilitators, including on-demand participants. The on-demand option afforded individuals who may be affected by time or travel barriers the opportunity to participate and still receive quality training at their convenience.

“I loved every session I attended,” said one participant. “I loved that other facilitators presented their best practices. This was one of the best seminars you guys have put on!” Another teacher said, “The most valuable part of EAST Seminar is the networking and camaraderie we develop with other facilitators. Once I return to my classroom, I now have 8-10 new friends to reach out to for questions and advice.”

Learn more about the EAST Initiative mission here.

Attendees received 2,848 hours of professional development from the live event and 712 hours was received by on-demand participants. Of the 39 sessions, 32 were technology focused, including topics such as cyber security, data science, technology repair, environmental science, tech certifications, engineering, 3D printing, AI, eSports, ArcGIS, videography and podcasting.

The event had a variety of ways to engage, including a wide array of exhibitors present to provide information about the field, morning posts designed to energize attendees, prizes for participants, staff recognition and networking groups and events.

Following the Seminar and thanks to survey results from attendees, 98% of facilitators felt better prepared to lead their classroom, 82% improved their understanding and skills with technology, and 95% felt better prepared for the new school year. They also identified areas to explore in the future like AI workshops, classroom management, 3D printing, design software, among others.

The purpose of the EAST Seminar was to create a relevant educational experience for EAST facilitators intentionally designed to inspire and recharge, cultivate networking and collaboration, and encourage continuing professional development and growth.

The Seminar was also made possible through generous sponsors, including the IMPAC Endowment, University of Arkansas, Avad3, ArcBest Technologies, Acxiom and Tesla Software.

When asked if EAST accomplished this goal, teachers responded with a resounding “Yes!”

“The breakouts were great, informative, and gave me ideas to take back this year,” said a local teacher. “I am glad some of the sessions I wanted to see were recorded! I love the network piece and getting to know other facilitators. It is one of the best seminars I attend that prepares me for the upcoming school year.”

The IMPAC Endowment that helped fund this seminar exists to provide research, development and implementation of computer technologies in Arkansas schools. To help increase the impact of this endowment, click here to make a donation.