300 educators gather to learn about digital literacy

KINGSFORD — The teachers were the students today at Kingsford High School, and technology was the focus of the lesson plan. ABC 10’s Andy Kulie was there, and he brings us more.

“Students are being bombarded by information, and they’re also being bombaded by technology and tools,” said Steve Dembo, Director of Online Community and Social Media for Discovery Education, who served as keynote speaker for the MACUL conference. “So it’s about how to make sense of what is being shared and what strategies they can use to most effectively communicate the things that are meaningful to them.”

Over 300 educators gathered in Kingsford Friday to learn more about digital literacy and the use of technology in the classroom.

The annual Upper Peninsula Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning — or MAC–AUL — conference has brought teachers together for over a decade to help learn from the experts and from one another.

This year, organizers added an “Innovation Zone” to show off cutting edge technologies already in use by teachers in the area.

“We decided to put in a practical, hands–on experience for people where they get to actually see things being done and created and try different things,” said Breitung Township Schools Superintendent Craig Allen.

MACUL Executive Director Mark Smith said, “You’ll see everything in there from drones to robots to 3D printers — to simply creative, art–based projects that can be done in a classroom today.”

“I hope that they see this new technology and find a way to maybe use it with the kids and maybe just get excited about learning new things,” added Jeff Harry, a computer teacher at Kingsford Middle and High Schools who also ran the conference’s presentation on drones.

“It’s a focus on being creative in learning,” said Smith.

Participants had a chance to experience dozens of learning sessions and network with vendors of educational techonology.
The conference has grown year after year, and organizers hope the growth will continue in years to come.