ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. -- Hundreds of teachers learned new ways to engage students with technology at EdCamp Rowan on Saturday.

"We want to make sure they're as up to date as our students are in the classroom," said Andrew Smith, director of digital innovation for Rowan-Salisbury Schools (RSS).

Smith said the district distributed more than 17,000 tablets to students this year, and now teachers are learning how to keep up with those new tools.

"Students and teachers, now that we have the internet just flowing every student has it, have the ability to learn together, so we think of it as a co-construction of knowledge," said Smith.

The purpose of EdCamp is for teachers to learn from one another and to become better professionals in the classroom.

"The professional development that we're getting right now are not meeting the needs of teachers in today's society," said Tiffany Carter, a teacher in RSS.

Carter continued that programs like EdCamp help teachers meet those needs for this generation of tech-savvy students.

Teachers spent all of Saturday learning from each other, like sharing new apps that can be used in class.

"Research shows teacher collaboration is one of the best ways to improve student achievement," said Latoya Dixon, co-principal at Knox Middle School in Salisbury.

Improving student achievement is a top priority for teachers across North Carolina, especially after the state released school performance grades last month with nearly half of Rowan-Salisbury Schools earned a 'D' grade.

"I do think that does show we have needs for improvement, and that is just more of a reason to bring the EdCamp model in," said Rachel Lawrence, a teacher in Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

Plus, teachers say EdCamp is a good way to retain teachers in North Carolina despite the low pay.

"You feel that initial support, you feel empowered, you feel appreciated and you feel connected, and that's what teachers are going to need if pay is not going to increase," said Carter.

The EdCamp Foundation organizes hundreds of teacher conferences across the country each year.