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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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A Conference for Kids: Sharpening Technical Skills Ultimately Benefits a School and a Community

Jim Moulton

Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant

Recently some 325 middle school kids from across the state of Maine (as well as a few visitors from neighboring New Hampshire) converged on the Gorham campus of the University of Southern Maine. They were there, along with teachers and parent chaperones, to participate in the third-annual MLTI Student Tech Team Conference -- the result of a partnership with that university's School of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology (ASET) and the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI).

Conference for Kids

The MLTI schools got great training for their Student Tech Teams, and USM and ASET got a chance to introduce tech-minded middle school kids to their campus. The kids got a chance to push their technical knowledge in addition to becoming better acquainted with a college campus in general and an exciting engineering program in detail. A classic win-win-win situation!

These Student Tech Teams can play a critical role in 1:1 schools, not only in New England, but anywhere. You see, when 1:1 comes to school, there is never "enough" technical support -- there simply can't be! By purposefully developing a team of students who have the technical skills to resolve relatively simple issues that might otherwise bring classroom use of laptops to a halt, a school supports teachers, students, and teaching and learning. And probably most important, by supporting tech team members in developing people skills that allow them to leave knowledge behind as they resolve technical issues, the tech team contributes to the building of school capacity to support change across the entire community.

These Student Tech Team Members and their teacher sponsors are getting to "live" project-based learning on a daily basis across all curriculum areas. They are on the front lines of supporting their schools by growing their own skills and then contributing what they know. How is your school growing student technical and people skills and then leveraging those skills by giving them a chance to give back to their school community? Let me know.

Jim Moulton

Technology Integration and Project-Based Learning Consultant
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Bonnie Bracey Sutton's picture
Anonymous (not verified)
These initiatives are really good, Student tech team leaders, and the GenY and other initiatives that empower students. I was empowered by a student who was supposed to be put in special ed because he could not write, and I allowed him to use the computer in my room. Well, we all know that one computer, even long ago gets attention, but he also used it as a tool for me. So we empowered each other, as he never went to special education, instead he wrote an essay as a 4th grader and was rewarded with a computer for himself, and one for me. We chose to have a mac and pc and we taught each other , and the rest of the students in the room, and that's how I got started. When I was slow to do things, like the program for a play, or recipes for the potluck dinner I always had at the beginning of the year, he and others rose to the challenge. I could write a book but I will stop here. I know exactly what you mean by growing their own skills. Thanks for the reminder. Bonnie
Matt Butcher's picture
Anonymous (not verified)
I want to take this same idea and put it out for all districts for all individual students. Each student leads the conference in front of parents, explaining what they are doing in school to get ready for the world.

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