WMU News

Conference focuses on integrating technology

Jan. 27, 2005

KALAMAZOO--Finding better ways of integrating technology into school curricula will be the focus of the 2005 Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning Conference Wednesday through Friday, March 16-18, at Cobo Center in Detroit.

The annual MACUL event, now it its 29th year, is one of the Midwest's largest educational technology conferences. Last year, the event attracted more than 2,700 people from the United States and Canada, including teachers, administrators, school board members, technology coordinators and media specialists as well as members of the public.

The 2005 MACUL Conference, "Integrate Technology...Ignite Learning!," will feature nationally recognized speakers, special events, student technology projects, and more than 250 workshops and informational sessions on best practices and trends in educational technology.

It is being coordinated by MACUL and arranged by Western Michigan University's Conferences and Seminars office. Renard Baldwin, director of technology for the St. Joseph (Mich.) Public Schools, is serving as chairperson for the event.

The conference strands will cover seven topics: administration and management; classroom models and strategies for integrating technology; developing human capacity; e-learning; Michigan's imaginative, statewide Freedom to Learn program; technical support issues; and using technology tools or applications.

The Freedom to Learn strand is new this year. It was added to provide insights about Michigan's Freedom to Learn program, which was launched in 2003. The initiative seeks to improve student achievement in core academic subjects by providing students with access to 21st Century learning tools. It is jointly administered by the Michigan Department of Education and Michigan Virtual University with the assistance of a statewide advisory group.

The program has created one-to-one environments in which 20,000 students are learning "with" rather than "about" computers. In addition, it is helping to bridge the digital divide by expanding technology opportunities for students, especially those in rural and high-priority schools.

The conference's opening keynote address, "What Technology Can Do to Make It Easier: A Brief Look at What Makes It into the Future," will be given at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, March 17, by public television executive Hall Davidson. Davidson, who acknowledges that schools may sometimes be seduced into technologies that have no effect on learning, will address what it takes for technologies to succeed in K-16 educational environments.

He is a former language and mathematics teacher, taught secondary mathematics on a television program that won an Emmy award, and now is educational services director for KOCE-TV, Orange County California's public broadcasting station. Davidson also is executive director of Telecommunications of Orange County, a media consortium serving 200,000 students, and director of the California Student Media and Multimedia Festival.

A closing keynote address, "The New, New Thing," will be given at 2:30 p.m. Friday, March 18, by education technology leader and pioneer Rem Jackson. Jackson will present a fast-paced, entertaining look at how educators can beat the odds and create an explosion of hi-tech creativity at their schools.

He frequently speaks on how educators can effectively and appropriately infuse technology into K-12 education and is a founding member of the nationwide company Classroom Connect. The company helps school districts increase their level of technology integration and develop custom professional development programs for their teachers.

The 2005 MACUL Conference will include an Autonomous Robotics Competition from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, during which students in grades three through eight will compete to accomplish robotics missions that emulate real-world tasks. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the same day, other student teams will participate in a Student Technology Showcase that will spotlight some of Michigan's best examples of how technology is being integrated into the curriculum.

The conference also will feature a three-day exhibition of some of the best teaching and learning hardware, software and peripherals available today. The exhibition will be open to the public for a $10 charge from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday. It will highlight more than 200 technology-related exhibitors.

The cost to attend the MACUL Conference is $170. After Feb. 21, a $30 late fee will be assessed. Special rates are available for students as well as those who do not wish to attend the full conference. Registrations are being accepted online and by fax.

For more information, call (517) 694-9756 or visit the Web site at <www.macul.org>.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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