From tips for creating a website to learning Google basics and from using 3D printers and pens to building a social media presence, the fifth annual Lone Star Technology in Action conference offers something for educators and local residents alike.
The two-day event kicked off Tuesday at Ryan High School and encouraged its 1,300 registered attendees to take a leap of faith and not be afraid to try something new.
“Here’s what you have to get yourself out of — ‘I don’t know how to do it,’” Glen Harrison, an instructional technology specialist for the Denton school district, told attendees in a session for how to create a website. “Don’t be afraid to leap out there and do something you’ve never done.”
Trying something new was right up Virginia Gallian’s alley. The retired music teacher said learning about new technologies and what’s going on in schools today is what interested her in attending Lone Star TIA.
“Technology is in front of us wherever we go,” Gallian said. “I’m willing to learn. That’s why I’m here. You’re never too old to learn.
“The world is full of technology now, and if we don’t understand how it operates and how we’re all connected through technology, we will be missing an understanding of what’s going on right now.”
The Denton school district’s instructional technology department is leading the event. Barry Fox, instructional technology director for the Denton school district, said a number of its sessions appeal to everyone.
Today, a social media boot camp offering tips for promoting a business, maximizing connections and understanding social media pitfalls is a session offering. Sessions on how to use advanced Microsoft Office components are also available.
Fox said his department worked to make this a community event.
“We really hope everyone can take advantage of the learning that’s going on,” he said.
The school district’s instructional technology department partnered with local businesses and the Denton Chamber of Commerce for new inclusions to this year’s conference — food trucks and a glimpse of Denton’s night life.
Local food trucks are parking in front of Ryan High to sell lunch to conference attendees. Conference networking continued on the downtown Square with live music at local eateries. A chartered bus was rented to shuttle conference-goers from the Square to host hotels, school officials said.
At the heart of the conference is professional development opportunities for its 1,200 registered educators. Keynote speaker Alan November on Monday encouraged educators to show students how they learn. In the age of the Internet, he said showing students how to learn is more beneficial. November is “an international leader in education technology,” according to his website.
Fox challenged audience attendees to share what they learned with someone else but most importantly teach what they learn. He said he hopes educators leave the event with several questions.
“I think that we use to think of technology as preparing students for tomorrow and ... tomorrow is here, tomorrow is now. That’s what it’s all about,” Fox said. “I hope that [educators] walk away with not just ideas for implementation in their classroom but I hope they also walk away with questions because technology is not always just about giving people an easy answer to things. It’s about stretching your mind, opening up the realm of possibilities of what can be done ... and creating a whole new way of engaging kids.”
It’s a challenge that’s going to take more than a two-day conference to accomplish, he said.
Alana Presley, recycling education coordinator for the city of Denton, said she attends the conference every year to stay informed about what the schools are doing. She said the event is something that’s connecting everyone.
“I think it’s cool that everyone is tweeting,” Presley said. “I’m an informal educator and this conference gives me an opportunity to network with the teachers and find out the best ways to communicate with the teachers and the students as an educational partner.”
The conference continues through noon today. Maria Henderson, an Apple development executive, former educator and instructional technologist, will close the conference with a keynote address starting at 11:15 a.m.
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.