I finished attending my first Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine (ACTEM) – MAINEducation Conference. on Friday.  Above is a link to the photos that I did take while I was there, no Rich I didn’t include that one of you (just click on Vickie’s picture).I can honestly say that I really, really enjoyed going to ACTEM10 and hope to attend ACTEM11.  So what did I learn while I was there?  Hmmmmm a lot about Apple products (that was on purpose), that not all presenters are created equal, and to stay away from some vendor presentations.

The first presentation I attended was a vendor sponsored one, that while the people doing the presenting were very knowledgeable about their product, the product itself just didn’t get my attention (and yes I have tried the product before) and won’t be using it in my classroom.  I got up and left during the break and found a table in the sit-down area and did some school work.

Lunch was great, I got to see people (Rich, Jim, and Craig) and some others who are part of my PLN and talked with or follow their Tweets on Twitter.  Then I got to talk with a couple of people that I haven’t seen since the summer conference it was great catching up on old times and what they are doing now.

As a relatively new convert to the Cult of Mac (last January), I wanted to get some training on how to use my MacBook more effectively, so I purposely signed up for more Apple presentations.

MacBook, iPod, iPad, Oh My! Mobile Learning with Apple – Presenter:  Paul Facteau,  Development Executive Working Lifestyle. Paul was a very knowledgeable and able presenter who discussed what are effective workflows for students. How to use what they already have been using to push content to their devices. How do we produce a seamless and flawless learning experience – integrated process – needs to be streamlined and useable.  We discussed using the toaster tech method to determine usefulness – if any more difficult than that people won’t use.

Paul – presented how to use the lesser known features on the MacBook in Services – Dictionary, Summarize, iTunes Talk and he showed us how to use the ePub publishing features in Pages to create your own electronic book.  We discussed iTunes University and how Maine has its own site there.

We also got to “play with some iPads and the new iPod Touch.  These were all things that I didn’t really know about – Services I had seen, but never realized what it was.  I even learned how to use CMD-Tab to switch between programs – I had seen others do it, but had never figured out how they did it.

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase
What I really learned from this session was that the iPad would not be a good fit for me in my classroom, in its present configuration and that my MacBook Pro is the tool that best suits my needs for now.  I would have to use too many work-arounds in order to use the iPad.  I use Google Aps a great deal and right now there is no direct way to use it on the iPad, also if I want to use a peripheral device i.e. LCD projector directly, I couldn’t.  So I will wait a bit to see how the 2nd generation iPads change and what “dongles” become available for it.I am now glad that I waited to buy the iPad, because even though I might have enjoyed it for my personal use, it would have been simply a “cool factor” device in the classroom.  Eventually, though one might find its way into my electronics inventory. Now the rumored 11.6 MacBook Air really interests me if it comes out.  Great session where I learned a lot.

The keynote by Angela Meiers and Vicki Davis simply rocked.  It was a great presentation and I live Tweeted some of the highlights of what they said.  I wonder how many people in the audience have felt like one of the crabs trying to escape?

Reaching All Learner’s – Apple Accessibility in Education (Special Education; All) – Sarah Herrlinger, Senior Manager, Education – Apple, Inc.  Another session where I learned the little things I can do with the MacBook, that I hadn’t been looking for or using previously.  There is just something about attending a professional development session where someone actually shows you how to use a tool’s lesser known capabilities, that could really make your life a lot easier, without any more work.

Challenge Based Learning – Take Action and Make a Difference, (7-12) – Jim Moulton, Education Development Executive – Apple, Inc.  What can I say it was Jim Moulton, he is a fantastic presenter.  It was an introduction to Challenge Based Learning.  A direction that I believe we need to go more towards.  Enough so that I sent an email to each of my students to see if anyone was interested in doing the current CBL challenge WatchMeGraduate.  I wonder if I will any of them will be interested?

Lunch was the Geek Tools of the Week, where I got to sit and talk with Mark and Jeff, I don’t know which was better talking with them or picking up some new tools for the toolbelt, especially Symbaloo, which I am going to try as my new homepage.  I have to say talking with Mark and Jeff was the highlight of that one :-).

My after lunch session was a little disappointing, I had thought the topic would be helpful to me in class, but it ended up being a poorly presented session.  The person was very knowledgeable about the subject, just not a very good presenter.  However, I will not disparage anyone who doesn’t work for one of the “companies” and is just one of us educators, who had the courage to at least make an effort to make a presentation, when so many of us didn’t (me included).

My last session was another vendor session, who while knowing his product line very well, just wasn’t what I had envisioned from the title.

So what did I learn from the conference?
  • That the ACTEM folks did a GREAT job of putting it together
  • That unless I am actually using or planning to use a product to not attend vendor presentations
  • That seeing people from my PLN face-to-face is fun and necessary
  • That not everyone is a good presenter and that we need to be patient with those who are not the professionals – other education professionals who volunteered to attempt a presentation.
I found it would be nice to only have to “know” one type of software/product and really get to know the ins and outs of that product – to focus on a single thing (what a luxury that would be).  Instead of knowing a little about a lot of products that we “could” use in our classroom and not utilizing any of them to their full extent.  In teaching there doesn’t seem to be any room to develop a real expertise, when you have so many “solutions” coming at you.
But then we wouldn’t get to try all those new “solutions” that might just work for that student who nothing else seemed to work for.  A double-edged sword, but it still would be nice to focus on learning something to the level where I could feel I have some expertise instead of just general knowledge.
Thank you everyone for a great ACTEM10

“Do the right thing for the right reason”

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  1. Great post Harold. I wish I had met you. I just went back to the classroom, HS Resource Room and I am blending the use of some technology tools to make the learning easier for my students. Next year, ACTEM11, I will be looking for you. I will be looking for you on Twitter! cheryloakes50


  2. What a wonderful reflection. I am still trying to get my head around all the conversations and learning. It was such an amazing conference, and I am so grateful to have been a part of it all.


  3. Cheryl Thank you and I look forward to meeting you…have heard your name bandied about in conversations over the past few years, just never seem to catch up with you though. Next year for sure.Angela – Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! You and Vickie were outstanding in the Keynote, I wish that I could have gotten to your sessions, (I heard from very reliable sources (Mark S.) that you were phenomenal. I almost met you the first day at lunch, but didn't want to intrude – that old "let them have some peace attitude" :-). Maybe next time.


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