HARRISONBURG — In his high school yearbook there is a picture of Hans Herlan and underneath the caption reads “future industrial arts teacher.”
Twenty-five years ago, technology instructors were not a thing in Virginia. Instead, there was industrial arts, Herlan said.
“I always liked working with my hands ... and I liked working with people,” he said. Where does that lead you in terms of a career? Into teaching.
For the past 10 years Herlan has been a technology teacher at Skyline Middle School. Industrial arts eventually became technology.
The field is constantly changing, and keeping up with the latest apps, programs and classroom innovations is important.
One way Harrisonburg City Public Schools helps teachers keep up with the ever expanding and changing technology landscape is through their annual tech camp offered every summer.
For three days this week 16 teachers will learn from ITRTs — instructional technology resource teachers — on what they can bring to their classrooms.
“Ninety-nine percent of what we do is constantly changing,” Herlan said. He was hoping to learn about new systems, websites and apps that he can introduce to students.
One program that Herlan uses is called SeeSaw, which allows students to upload their work so that teachers and parents can see them, whether it’s taking a picture of a worksheet or recording a presentation.
The school division has been offering this tech camp to teachers since 2012, said Cherie Roadcap, an ITRT at Thomas Harrison Middle School. Teachers sign up and share some topics that they’re interested in and then ITRTs teach them.
Some of the topics of interest this year have been coding, using green screens in the classroom, copyright and fair use, social media and stop animation.
At the end of the camp teachers are required to give a presentation about how they plan to use what they’ve learned in the classroom, or a way that they’re going to work with their school’s ITRT to implement something new.