Saturday, October 12, 2019

ACTEM 2019 Reflections

ACTEM is the Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine. I had the pleasure of attending their fall conference this year and it was a blast.

Maine is doing some great things with technology, with state support and the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI)...

In 2002, Maine became the first state to provide a personal portable computer device to each 7th and 8th grade student and teacher, along with the software, wireless networks, technical support, and professional development needed to effectively use the technology for teaching and learning.  Read more about the groundbreaking MLTI program on the History page.

The program has changed somewhat over the years, but the goal remains the same:  to provide State support for access to technology-enhanced educational experiences for all students. In the 2018-19 school year, the State will be helping over 300 schools obtain educational technology and the professional learning necessary to take advantages of all that technology offers.
The conference had the usual slate of featured keynotes and breakout sessions. What I found so valuable was for the relative small size of the conference (a few hundred attendees) the quality of the presentations, and skill/knowledge of the presenters, was amazing.

What impressed me most was the quality of sessions. I sat in a session about Apple School Manager that was run by two Apple Engineers. Apple is heavily supporting MLTI and their engineers were helping individuals in the room with their specific needs. The benefit of a smaller conference with such state support was this amazing amount of one-on-one attending from highly qualified speakers. As a non-Mainer the Apple engineers couldn't help me to the same level as the Maine attendees but they were great about answering my questions and connecting me with local engineers in my area.

Apple had quite a few sessions over the two days. Each led by an Apple trainer or engineer. A lot of conferences have Apple-themed sessions led by teachers who use Apple products. And those can be great. The difference with ACTEM was with Apple running sessions about Apple products, the knowledge shared was unparalleled. Keyframe animation in iMovie was great, as was making gifs in Keynote.

I also sat in a session about Google Tour Creator and Expeditions. Let by two Maine educators who happen to be Google Innovators and Certified Instructors. They had a full Expeditions kit and about 10 of us in the session. Again, the depth of knowledge and experience of the presenters paired with the small number of attendees meant the session was very detailed, hands-on, and could be tailored to each attendees need at any point.

I drove the 5:30 minutes to Augusta for this conference because I wanted to experience what the State of Maine had to offer from an edtech standpoint. I'd heard about the MLTI program for years but I wanted to see it first hand. Plus, I love Maine, my wife is from Maine, I spend about 5 weeks a year in Maine for fun, so why not see the other side of what the state has to offer, and spend a few days learning.

I also think it's a great opportunity to get out of the NYC-area and learn about what other educators are doing. I love where I teach but I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that sometimes where you live and work, and the local events you go to, become a bit of an echo chamber. I wanted to get away from my local echo chamber and learn differently. I also wanted to share what I have been doing and get feedback from a new audience.

I presented two sessions and did an Ignite talk about teaching with Ignites. The presentations and Ignite video are below...

Comics: Thinking Outside the Presentation Box

Comics: Attendee Characters

Paper to YouTube: Student Filmmaking

An Ignite about Teaching with Ignites


Slide deck

My Ignite resources - blog posts

It was a great to days of learning, sharing, and connecting. I got to connect with new folks and reconnect with people I haven't seen in a while. Big thanks to Stephanie Cheney, Cheryl Oakes, Andrew Wallace and the whole ACTEM team for putting on a great event. And Matt Joseph, Suzie Brooks, and Colleen Terrill, it was great to see and reconnect with the Massachusetts crew. Always great to see Tom Murray too. And too everyone else I met, learned from, and those who took the time to come to my sessions, thank you. It was a great two days and it was the people and knowledge dropping from everyone who made it so awesome.

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