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Commentary: How to make digital devices matter in the classroom

LA School Report | November 18, 2015

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ed tech magazine

By Eric Patnoudes

As the parent of four kids, I had the pleasure of listening to Fredi Lajvardi give a keynote at CETPA’s annual conference last year, and it was the sort of talk that sends shivers down educators’ spines and gives them goose bumps.  It was an hour of awe-inspiring pure education magic — the type of story that most educators would tell you is the very reason why they became a teacher.

For those who don’t know, a movie was made about Lajvardi, called Spare Parts. It’s based on a true story about four of his students, undocumented Mexican immigrants who spoke English as a second language and lived on public aid. These kids asked Lajvardi to support them in entering an underwater robotics competition. Then, against seemingly insurmountable odds, these students won the competition and beat MIT in the process.

That’s MIT, as in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Yeah, crazy, right?

The questions I always ask when telling the story about Lajvardi and his students are: Which platform, apps or cool tools do you think Lajvardi mentioned the most? Do you think he used Google, Microsoft or Apple? A tablet or a laptop?

The answer? He didn’t mention any of those things.

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