Posts Tagged ‘MLTI student conference’

Lessons learned at the 2013 MLTI Student Conference

May 28, 2013

LessonsLearnedIn2009The annual MLTI Student Conference is an incredible learning opportunity for students and their teachers, Maine teacher educators, and the dedicated MLTI team. Every year I marvel at the enthusiasm, passion, interest, and knowledge of the middle and high school students attending. As the conference director, Jim Moulton, likes to remind us, “This will be a day dedicated to fun—to hard fun!” I certainly had fun again this year and I learned some “hard” lessons as well. Here are three of them.

#1—The best lesson: MLTI promotes amazing student learning in many ways that aren’t reflected in student test scores. Excellent workshops, outstanding mass learning, scholarship awards, but the highlights each year for me are the student speakers,  middle and high school students from Maine schools, who use technology for learning and for doing good. Their stories are powerful. In past years, Hannah Potter, Chris Jones, and others have spoken about their personal journeys through learning with technology.

This year’s speakers were outstanding as well. Izzy Labbe and Julia Bluhm, 9th graders in central Maine, spoke of their work as bloggers and activists for SPARK. Julie and Izzy led a successful campaign to encourage Seventeen Magazine to stop using Photoshopped images of young girls. Both young women are now active bloggers and speak widely about their work. Watch their excellent presentation at TEDx Women 2012 to hear their full story.

The second student speaker was Yuval Boss, Orono High School senior, a web designer who also got his start with his 7th grade MLTI laptop. Yuval took advantage of many opportunities—”play around” with Sketch-Up and other software that caught his interest, join his high school’s student technology team, attend MLTI Student Conferences, teach himself HTML and other programming languages, and perhaps most importantly of all, “…find out that kids like me are doing all of this.” It wasn’t long before Yuval interned at a local web-design firm, free-lanced for other businesses, and ultimately used his skills to give back to organizations like CISV. Watch Yuval’s presentation here.

These students are amazing. Now I would like someone to deconstruct the skills these Maine students have developed largely because they had the tools (their own MLTI computer and Internet access) and the support of parents and teachers. These young people are self-learners, they are go-getters, and they make significant contributions to their communities and society. The learning they are so passionate about has little to do with learning measured by standardized test scores. (And it certainly has nothing to do with learning to use a computer that businesses currently use or having a computer to take tests on.)

#2—The hardest lesson: The elephant in the room is sitting on my computer.  What will happen to MLTI and technology and learning in Maine? The recent decision about the next MLTI phase has caused consternation everywhere as schools struggle to determine the impact in their communities. Is this really about “choice”? Will the “level playing field”, a key component of MLTI since the beginning, endure without continuity across the state given different devices, networks, professional development opportunities, and aspirations arising from the selection made in each district? And what about everything we’ve learned about technology and learning in the last 11 years? Are we throwing that out to start over? Ultimately, the decision must be about what choice(s) provide the best opportunities for student learning and not the least expensive cost.

#3—The most baffling lesson: Did you see the news coverage of this year’s MLTI Student Conference? Neither did I, nor did anyone else. Outside of one short paragraph I found in an online newspaper, I saw no TV or major newspaper coverage of this event. Evidently, 1200 students and 200 teachers in one place learning from each other is not news. (Sarcasm intended!) I’m convinced that at its core, this paucity of media coverage for such a significant event has more to do with a fundamental lack of understanding about the role of technology in learning than from obvious disinterest. This story is much more complex than students using computers to do interesting things in the classroom…and that may be the problem. But that is a story for another day! Fortunately, MLTI schools and students made and recorded their own news. See this short YouTube video from Gorham Middle School about the experiences of the 19 students and 5 teachers they sent to the conference.

Three lessons…do any of them resonate with your experience?

Photo by Brian Snelson, http://www.flickr.com/photos/exfordy/

MLTI 9th Annual Student Conference

May 9, 2012

Bringing students together for a wonderful opportunity!

The MLTI conference agenda looks like an event not to be missed. Block 1 session starts with students telling their stories….

  • Taking Care of Business
    Presenter: Tim Walsh, Freshman at Kennebunk High School
    Tim will share how he leveraged his access to his MLTI MacBook to become a design professional along with a team at Middle School of the Kennebunks. And Tim will make clear – his accomplishments to date are “only a beginning…” (read more by clicking here)
  • “You kind of have to want to…”
    Presenters: Emily & Katie Morse, Juniors at Machias High School
    Emily and Katie are studying Japanese to meet their world language graduation requirement at Machias High, and they are doing it online through Brigham Young University in Salt Lake City, Utah via their MLTI MacBooks. They’re proving MLTI students have the opportunity to learn what they want to learn – when and how they want to learn it. (Read more by clicking here.)

This is just the way the day starts on May 24th on the UMaine, Orono campus.

Block 3 Über-session will be my favorite part of the day, I just know. This is taken from the MLTI website:

This year’s student conference will feature over 1,000 students playing an original composition on the MLTI devices. Using GarageBand (recording software included on the image), students will come to the session having already created their own sampled keyboard – one that they will play as a group along with 1000 other musicians!
 
The samples created will include an octave of pitched musical notes and five localized sound effects that will be incorporated in the piece. MLTI staff will capture the culminating performance and release audio and video to the public shortly after the performance.
 
Now let’s be honest – if you’re a musician, you probably understand all this…
 
But… If you are not a musician – don’t worry – there will be plenty of help available to make sure everyone can arrive at the event ready to go. Read below for more information on how to get prepped to be part of this exciting event, as over 1,000 Maine people join together to make music!
 
Oh, one more thing – there will be some great professional and amateur Maine musicians involved – but we can’t release details just now as they are still being worked out!

You can read more, see the schedule, and register for the conference at http://www.maine.gov/mlti/studentconference. I understand there are still some spaces left!

 


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