ASU+GSV EdTech Summit & Neurodiversity
The latest trends and innovation in education technology can be found at the ASU+GSV Summit. The summit brings together educator leaders, administrators, technology experts, startup companies, and investors from all over the world to share ideas, discuss challenges, and explore new ways to improve teaching and learning. Creatively Focused was named as one of the Elite 200 Startup Companies at this year’s summit. From the inspiring keynote speakers of Bill Gates, Sal Kahn, Sheryl Sandberg and others, to the informative breakout sessions including the recent advances in AI and ChatGPT, we were able to learn, connect, and share our solution to problems in special education. It was truly an amazing experience.
Elizabeth Orme, Founder & CEO of Creatively Focused, was invited to speak at the summit on the panel, Neurodiversity as an Asset: A Brave New World of Equal Access to the Future. She was joined on stage by Marker Learning CEO Stefan Bauer, Multiple CEO Dan Feshbach, Digital Promise Senior Director of Learner Variability Project Barbara Pape, IEP & Me Co-Founder & CEO Bridgette Leslie, and Difference Partners Founder & General Partner Jesse Morris.
This topic is close to our hearts at Creatively Focused, capturing the groundbreaking work we are doing supporting special educators and neurodiverse students and teachers. Studies show that 1 in 5 students have a learning difference of some kind, so this topic is relevant to all educators.
Elizabeth’s passion and expertise in this area came through in the panel. She discussed the movement of recognizing teachers as learners, “What we are starting to see in districts is that we are caring about the adults. That has been a long time coming. We’re starting to think about the adults and the educators as learners.” Focusing on the teacher as a learner that needs to be supported is key to the work we do. Elizabeth brought up important questions that others might not be considering, such as, “How do we support neurodiverse new teachers?”
During the introduction, Elizabeth shared the story of when she was a student and was able to be in the back of the room doing a handstand while studying her spelling words. She needed to move (and sometimes be upside down), and her teacher understood that and allowed her to learn in the way that worked for her. Elizabeth brings her unique perspective to education and the edtech space in innovative ways.
She looks at each individual with unique needs and thinks about how they can be supported. “In the work that we do, when we are working with teachers, we look at the best way that an adult learns. What is the best way that these different brains, working in phenomenal ways, can access all of this relevant information so that they can take care of all of the things that they need to do, so that they can really focus on relationships?”
I left this panel uplifted by the companies and leaders that are tirelessly working to improve special education and support neurodiverse people in smart, systematic ways. The sense of community at the summit as a whole was electric. It was clear that everyone there was passionate about using technology to improve education, and it was inspiring to be surrounded by so many like-minded individuals. I had some great conversations with educators and edtech experts, and came away feeling energized and excited about the possibilities of what we can achieve together.
Written by Shannon Hady, Leadership Integrator & former Special Education Para, Teacher, & Coordinator