23 Feb 2022

April Requard: Giving Students a Seat at the Table

The conversation surrounding equity within education is a dominating topic currently. While there is a multitude of ways that equitable education can manifest and be achieved, April Requard believes that technology is an essential component in this journey. April Requard is a Coordinator of Educational Technology in Austin, Texas who is dramatically transforming the EdTech community by encouraging students and teachers alike to utilize technology to explore and discover their own unique abilities and talents.

April Requard is a Coordinator of Educational Technology in Austin, Texas.
Individualized Tech Integration

April believes that technology plays a vital role in the acquisition of an equitable learning environment. She believes it’s about how you incorporate this technology into the classroom, and not the tool itself! “Technology is a tool at its core. Therefore, tech isn’t great by itself, we must use it in ways that truly benefit our students. It’s about giving kids multiple ways to showcase what they know and multiple avenues to get there. What excites me isn’t going to excite the kid next to me.”  Every student must be approached differently, and given different tools and opportunities to express the knowledge that they possess! This is personalized learning at its best! While one student may need to use a specific technology to further their learning, another student may not have to! “I want teachers to realize that technology, when its used best is not used as a one size, fits all solution. I want students to show me what they know. What are you good at, and how can you use your talents to show what you know?”

April is seen here working with students on an upcoming speech about technology.

Handing technology to students and allowing them the freedom to use it in a way to better express themselves and their knowledge is creating a more equitable learning environment! “Your goal as an educator is to make learning possible and accessible for everyone. {The goal is} To create opportunities that engage each student. It’s to introduce them to new things that hopefully change the trajectory of their life!” April believes this is how an educator truly can get to know their students and their unique skills; when you give students technology that highlights their skill it allows the space for true learning to take place! “When I give kids an assignment I rarely show them a sample of what it looks like because then they try and make my sample! Sometimes templates are necessary, however, I always want students to make it their own!”

OKIOCAM: Unbeatable Versatility

April believes the OKIOCAM is no exception to this rule; it’s a tool that both helps students to showcase their knowledge, and also assists in fostering a space where learning through sharing can occur. As an Educational Technology Specialist, April believes that giving teachers easy-to-use, compact, and portable devices is of the utmost importance! “What I am doing is creating tutorials for kids and teachers, and what I realized is a lot of kids need to see my hands…it’s one thing to create a screen recording, but my students being able to see me pinch, zoom, and double-tap the screen in real-time has been a game-changer. The very skill is so important as we conduct in-person instruction as well so that kids can see those on-screen gestures.” The OKIOCAM truly fits each teacher’s needs and allows them the freedom to offer top-notch education whether learning is being conducted remotely, in a hybrid model, or in person.

April’s favorite EdTech pairing is the OKIOCAM with her Apple products.

April notes that she loves the multitude of uses the OKIOCAM has for students as well. “Typically document cameras have only been used by teachers to create lessons or show example work, but it’s brilliant to push student use. Especially with the time-lapse and stop motion capabilities that come with the OKIOCAM.” April loves the versatility that the OKIOCAM has because it can assist all teachers no matter the subject that they are teaching. “I had a new creative writing teacher and she wanted a document camera to be able to pick apart each other’s writing as a class in order for them to make real-time adjustments and critiques.”

Here she is creating a video using her OKIOCAM for young learners about how to properly scroll on an iPad.
Students Become Educators

Achieving equity in education can also be done through the students themselves. During her first year as a technology integration teacher, April was creating an iBook for teachers on how to incorporate various apps to make more meaningful learning experiences and she needed student examples. She decided to start a student technology team that would create these examples, but it morphed into so much more. She realized that these students had the capability to transform their educational community. “I needed a team of students to push ideas and innovation forward and to inspire teachers to use technology in their classrooms in meaningful and authentic ways.”  Her SWAT team, namely Students Working to Advance Technology, began to educate other students, teachers, and their broader community.

She is seen here with fellow educators at a conference to talk about tech!

The focus of the SWAT team is to place students at the center of their education by giving them control! “I think giving kids a seat at the table is truly the epitome of equity. It creates an authentic student-led culture.” April’s SWAT team started an event at their school called app speed dating. Essentially, there was a representative from the team at each station who would explain a different EdTech application! Teachers would spend five minutes at each station learning about each application from the respective student! April gushed that you could truly see the confidence being instilled in her students as they were educating the teachers. “It’s so much more than technology… it’s teaching kids leadership, problem-solving and real-world experiences. Because it’s not about technology, it’s what we do with it that matters.” 

This is her annual “App Speed Dating” event where students from her technology team show a group of teachers how to properly use a specific EdTech tool.
A “Genius” Tech Community

April continued to push her students to do out-of-the-box events for teachers, the school, and even the broader community! They put on a virtual film festival where students in the surrounding area submitted all types of films to be reviewed by the SWAT team. They hosted a “Genius Bar” event at their school where friends and family could come to talk to the SWAT members about problems they were having with different technology. “When we put technology in the hands of the powerful ….and focus on how technology can be used as an amazing tool for learning and teaching that’s when we see transformation.” April knew that other educators would benefit from this experience, so she decided to submit a proposal for an upcoming TED talk in her community centered around equity. As a group, April and her students presented their TED talk with the students as the stars. She knew in order to carry out the ethos of the seminar that the students had to be the main attraction.

Here she is seen with her SWAT team presenting at a TEDx event.

Equity within education inherently looks different for each class, school, and community because it is made up of students who have a differing race, background, education, socio-economic status, and family. Achieving equity is a process and something that takes diligent effort on the part of the educator. April Requard is showing us how she aims to reach equitable education through individually tailored technology use, and by granting students access and a seat at the table.

April currently resides in Austin Texas where she serves as the Coordinator of Educational Technology for the Dripping Springs Independent School District! She also serves as a facilitator of learning and innovation where she trains teachers on how to incorporate technology in ways that place the student at the center of their learning experience. April is a former teacher, technology teacher, and Educational Technology Specialist for Albuquerque Public Schools in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 2013, April had the distinct honor of being chosen as an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE). April runs an award-winning blog called “Appsolutely April” where she offers tech tips, tech recommendations, and tutorials. She also offers consulting, design, and social media services! April has written five different books available for download on Apple Books including The Key(note) to Storytelling. If you want to keep up with April, you can follow her on Twitter where she is constantly giving tech tips and sharing nuggets of information with her followers!

This story is a series where we honor extraordinary educators who are making a difference in their communities with OKIOCAM. This story is written by Ben Jones.