Calling All Educators – The 4 key takeaways from VEI’s 2023 NTC

Educators from across the nation came together at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus for our 8th Annual National Teachers’ Conference (“NTC”). Participants grounded their learning in present realities, but with an eye on ensuring their students would be ready for the future of work. With over 60 sessions over three days, the NTC offered targeted learning for everyone.  In addition, attendees had the opportunity to earn certifications while selecting from specific sessions to deepen their skills and understanding around programs and topics like QuickBooks, Canva, Social and Emotional Learning, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Mahmoud Khedr, a VE alum whose experiences in the program propelled him to found FloraMind, kicked off the Conference with a compelling look at how students’ present work and learning in VE can launch them into healthy, fulfilling futures. 

Khedr’s moving keynote set the stage for three days packed with conversation and learning centered around students’ future readiness, with three key learnings becoming apparent.

1. AI is an Answer if We’re Asking the Right Question

AI’s potential impact on education came up repeatedly at the conference, both as the focus of sessions and organically in conversations among networking educators. In her keynote address, Amanda Fox, author of The AI Classroom, noted multiple entry points for educators to use AI to individualize instruction. Fox also shared a framework to use with students in which AI could be used as a tool in their creative projects. Canva Learning Consultant Lis Bostwick added to the discourse, detailing practical classroom applications of AI-powered applications in Canva. While AI cannot replace the durable skills students acquire and apply in career-focused courses, it can and should be seen as a useful tool for current and future learning and work.  

2. Deep Learning is Both Social and Emotional

A key outcome of VEI’s curriculum and extended learning opportunities is the social and emotional growth that results from students productively struggling alongside one another.  In addition to Khedr’s opening keynote, multiple sessions focused on the benefits of – strategies for – creating learning environments that support students’ self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship, and decision-making competencies. In career-focused coursework, authentic social and emotional learning blossoms alongside and supports acquisition of key course concepts. When students are given the opportunity to work cooperatively to solve real-world problems, their academic, social, and emotional growth can flourish together.

3. Getting Students Ready for their Future Means Connecting to their Past and Igniting their Present

As educators, much of our ability to help students reach their potential begins 

with understanding their history and crafting experiences that will tap into their motivation. Mike Iskandar, TedX speaker and founder of Time Travel Journeys, offered conference attendees a look at the power of exploring students’ past and future selves to build a robust bridge between the two. Dr. David Guerin delivered the final keynote of the NTC, in which he delved into practical strategies for crafting classroom environments that encourage students to be risk-takers in their learning. Risk-taking in safe environments was a consistent theme of the conference, as attendees consistently connected trying, failing, and trying again as a key component of what makes VEI’s programmatic offerings so empowering for educators and students alike.

4. What’s Next

The future possibilities of technology are seemingly limitless. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon all of us in the educational space to be intentional about how we manage the intersection of AI, social and emotional well-being, and connections to real-world learning. Doing so will be a primary driver in helping close equity gaps in education while preparing students to thrive in a global economy. The team at Virtual Enterprises International is uniquely poised to meet these needs through our immersive, future-focused classroom experiences. Help us drive the work today that will help students thrive tomorrow.