School district sending entire staff to technology conference

Posted Oct. 11, 2012, at 7:39 p.m.

BATH, Maine — More than 250 teachers from Bath area schools will attend a learning technology conference Friday in Augusta in an effort to make the best use of hundreds of computers deployed within the district.

Dean Emmerson, Regional School Unit 1’s technology coordinator, said this is the first time in the history of the conference that a single district has committed so many of its staff to attending. He said sending the teachers to the conference is something he and the district’s technology committee have envisioned for several months as a way to “build momentum” around the use of technology in education. A teacher workshop day was scheduled for Friday so the district’s 255 teachers, principals, education technicians and librarians can attend the conference.

“My hope for them is that they get an opportunity to see what other people are doing across the state and also to share the great stuff they’ve been doing as well,” said Emmerson. “Everyone talks about buying more stuff — that we need more computers, iPads and projectors — but the conversation sort of stops at buying the stuff. I think the focus should be on what can we do with it once we have it.”

The annual MAINEducation Conference is hosted by a group called the Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine. Last year, approximately 1,000 educators attended the conference, which means Bath area schools could represent as much as 25 percent of this year’s attendees.

Emmerson said all high school and middle school students in RSU 1 are equipped with computers. The district also heightened its level of technology in the classroom this year at the newly constructed Woolwich Central School, which is equipped with iPad carts, Macbooks and interactive computer projectors in every classroom.

“This is a good opportunity to invest in our people, to help them see what’s possible,” said Emmerson. “We need to be asking how the use of technology is creating a more effective lesson and acknowledging where it is not, or cannot.”

The MAINEducation Conference, which after 25 years of conferences bills itself as one of the largest educational technology gatherings in New England, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, which was launched in September 2002 after being hatched by Gov. Angus King.

According to data from the Maine Department of Education, Maine Learning Technology Initiative has provided laptop computers for nearly 30,000 middle school students in Maine and 24,000 high school students, in addition to some 12,000 teachers.

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