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Tech conference enhances learning

We can remember a time when classroom technology meant chalkboards and mimeograph machines, but luckily, today’s schools have no such limitations.

Teachers have a vast array of exciting tools to help their students learn, and a recent conference at Denton’s LaGrone Advanced Technology Complex was designed to help them make the most of what’s available.

The fourth annual Lone Star Technology in Action (TIA) conference drew a record turnout, according to officials with the Denton school district, which hosted the event. A total of 1,200 people registered for the conference, and about 300 even showed up for 7 a.m. early-bird sessions.

Dozens of sessions and workshops helped attendees — including the general public as well as educators — learn about various ways of using technology and how integrating technology in the classroom can enhance learning.

In between sessions, business vendors promoted their products while conference attendees gathered in person and on Twitter to talk about ideas, applications and Web tools they had learned about.

The growing conference attendance proved to be a challenge, said Barry Fox, instructional technology director for the Denton district. For the opening and closing sessions, seats were placed in a conference room and flowed out into the main foyer in order to accommodate all of the attendees.

“Because we’re growing in popularity, we’re working hard to make sure we have enough seating in our general sessions,” he said. “It’s a wonderful problem to have.”

The conference put a lot of useful information within easy reach of a lot of area teachers, participants said.

“I thought it was an excellent opportunity to learn about some of the new technology that’s available for the classroom,” said Kimberly Kass, an Argyle High School teacher and first-time attendee who registered after hearing positive things about the conference from others. “And I already use a lot of technology in the classroom, but there’s always more that you can incorporate or find what fits better. And being that this conference was local, it made it very convenient.”

Leona Eimandoust, another first-time attendee, said she regrets not attending the conference sooner. Eimandoust, an inclusion paraprofessional at Denton’s Rivera Elementary School, said she accomplished her goal of catching up on technologies her daughter uses. She felt she was more empowered to take what she learned and jotted down in notes to use on the job.

“I’m just so overwhelmed by everything,” Eimandoust said. “There was so much to offer in workshops. We got something out of each one.”

Fox said Lone Star TIA is just the starting point for educators.

“Our job now is to take this excitement and take the learning into our schools, into our classrooms, so that we can change the lives of our students,” he said.

Kudos to the Denton school district for hosting the Lone Star Technology in Action conference.

Thanks to its innovative sessions and workshops, attendees will be better equipped to make full use of new classroom technology to enhance students’ learning experience and broaden their horizons.