WMU News

From PTAs to PDAs

April 17, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- The good old days of furiously taking notes as teachers talk may be nearing an end. Begging students to return permission slips before an off-campus excursion is increasingly a thing of the past. And relying on the dinner party crowd to stay hip on the networking scene is ancient history.

The emergence of personal digital assistants to beam data, teachers' growing interest in virtual field trips, and wireless networking in schools are just a few of the issues to be discussed Thursday and Friday, April 18 and 19, at an Educational Technology Coordinators Conference on the Western Michigan University.

The conference will draw more than 250 participants from school districts throughout the state as well as U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, who will recognize four Benton Harbor high school students who are working with WMU education specialists on "Imagining the Future," a national initiative to transform the use of advanced digital technologies in the classroom.

Upton, whose presentation is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. Friday, heads the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. The subcommittee has broad jurisdiction over all telecommunication and information transmission by broadcast, radio, wire, satellite and the Internet. In addition, the subcommittee oversees issues related to government agencies, such as the Federal Communications Commission.

Now in its fifth year, the educational technology conference is sponsored by WMU's College of Education and offers workshops on such topics as distance learning, Internet 2, technology competencies, online resources for educators and other issues. It is designed for people who are in technology leadership positions in Michigan schools and school districts.

Conference presenters include education technology experts from across the state of Michigan. This is the one technology conference in Michigan totally devoted to helping technology coordinators and other technology leaders find concrete help and fresh information on the work they are doing in Michigan schools.

Beyond teaching and learning through technology, the conference also addresses issues related to teacher support and staff development; collaboration; funding activities; and management matters such as planning, personnel Web sites and networking.

This year's conference keynote speaker will be Leslie Flanders, district technology coordinator for Scott County Schools in Georgetown, Ky. A former elementary teacher, Flanders' career path shifted in 1984 when she eyed several new computers in her children's new elementary school and volunteered to staff a computer lab with other parents.

A self-proclaimed "technology evangelist," Flanders is a past president of the Kentucky Association of Technology Coordinators and currently serves as treasurer of the Central Kentucky chapter of that organization. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the International Society for Technology in Education.

Flanders' keynote address is titled "Steering Through the Fog Toward Your Vision" and is scheduled for Friday at 8:30 a.m.

"Visions come to us through the minds of others with whom we have connected," she says. "The best visions result from a melding of the ideas and thoughts of people who can help us realize those visions."

Technology coordinators are at the wheel, she says, and are steering their districts toward that vision. Still, they must be careful to keep glancing in the mirror "so as not to be blind-sided or rear-ended on that highway."

Those interested in participating may call the WMU office of Conferences and Seminars at (269) 387-4174 or visit the conference Web site at <www.wmich.edu/edtech/conference>.

Media contact: Gail H. Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
269 387-8400