Technology is a powerful part of transforming teaching and learning.

Abbey Futrell is a Digital Innovation Coach and Research Associate with the Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative at North Carolina State University’s William & Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. Her work with the Friday Institute encompasses a commitment to coaching teachers on how to create meaningful digital learning experiences for students, redefining professional development experiences, and serving as one of the lead facilitators for the North Carolina Digital Leaders Coaching Network. She frequently presents at national education conferences and has moderated Future Ready Summits sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. This February, Futrell will present at AcceleratED 2017, OETC’s one-day event for administrators and leaders in education.

In anticipation of this event, we conducted a brief personal interview with Abbey Futrell. Read the full interview below!

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am a Digital Innovation Coach with North Carolina State University’s Friday Institute, which is like working at Disney World and Google. I like to summarize what I do as helping teachers develop the skills required to create and engage students in digital immersion experiences…by any means necessary! The most beautiful part of my job is that I am afforded amazing opportunities to facilitate fun, engaging, and customized professional development for teachers, principals, and school districts across the United States.

What are your technology “must-haves”—the technology (hardware, software—whatever falls into your definition of the category) that you could not get through the day without?

  • My phone
  • Twitter / Instagram
  • Google Everything
  • Apple Play
  • Pocket
  • Bag of popcorn (not technology but is a must have)

How did technology affect your own education? Is there anything you miss about technology at that time?

Oddly enough, when I was in high school (back in the late 1900s) I don’t remember much interaction with technology other than using PrintShop to make banners for the homecoming game on the dot matrix printer, so I can’t say I’ve always been a “techie”. I just remember working as an administrative assistant and the office would receive flyers for a variety of computer training sessions. My boss at the time would encourage me to attend and I was instantly hooked. Coming into education from the private sector, I simply transferred that curiosity and inquisitiveness to technology for teaching and learning. In all honesty, coming into education knowing how to mail merge was a life saver on several occasions.

What is your hope for the future of technology in education?

My hope for the future of technology in education is that technology will continue to afford teachers opportunities for students to be engaged with content on an immersive level. I would like to see more students truly interacting with technology in addition to teachers amping up their instructional use of technology. Technology is a powerful part of transforming teaching and learning. As Jennifer Hogan said, “The need for students to memorize state capitals and battle dates disappeared when Siri learned them.” I would also hope the future of technology allows teachers to embrace the productivity aspects of technology use to give us back those much needed minutes with students.

If you could go out for coffee with anyone—historical or contemporary, real or fictional, celebrity or unknown—who would it be?

My professional self is telling me to list someone profound but the simple truth is if presented with this opportunity, I would have coffee with New Edition. All of them. Even Bobby Brown.

To hear more of Abbey Futrell’s thoughts on innovative classroom strategies, register for AcceleratED 2017, OETC’s one-day event for administrators and leaders in education.

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