I’m off Wednesday afternoon for the 2006 Mid-America Technology Institute hosted by the Mid-America Association for Computers in Education. It is being held in Winfield, Kansas, just south of Wichita, Kansas, and about 2 hours from where I live now in Edmond, Oklahoma. Will Richardson is the keynote speaker on Thursday, and I am sharing two spotlight sessions on Friday. They will not be webcast live, but will be shared later as podcasts (by me) and on Kan-Ed Live!. My uncle, Ron Henley, who works at ESSDACK in Hutchinson, is actually scheduled to do the videotaping.

I grew up in Manhattan, Kansas from 6th grade through high school and still consider myself a Kansan (I bleed purple) — although now I guess I am more of a “midwesterner” since I’ve lived in Texas so long. I’ve never presented before at a Kansas technology conference, however, so as you might guess I am very excited to have a chance to present at MTI 2006! For the past 13 years, this has been my license plate:

My Texas license plate

I have not previously shared either of the sessions I’m doing at MTI before, but have been planning / preparing them over the past few months. I have arranged to include short videoconferences with Cheryl Oakes and Tim Wilson during these sessions, which should definitely add some quality and class to the them! (not to mention interactivity) :-)

If you are interested in tracking blog, flickr photo, and other posts from MTI 2006 online the next few days, you can check Technorati tags for “mti2006″ and use this link to the conference’s page on David Warlick’s Hitchhikr service.

Additionally, I’ve taken the liberty of creating a conference wiki page on PBWiki and have linked materials for my first presentation to it. It is open for others at the conference to use as well, and includes directions for blogging the conference. I’ll be adding my materials for the 2nd session later in the week before Friday.

My spotlight sessions are going to be:

Safe Digital Social Networking: Generally adults help young people learn to drive safely before giving them car keys and turning them loose on the streets of the world. Young people also need guidance and adult assistance to learn how to safely navigate the virtual environments of the 21st Century. Schools must be proactive, rather than merely defensive, in helping students acquire the skills of digital citizenship needed today and in the future. Simply banning read/write web tools on school networks is an inadequate response: Educators must strive to learn alongside students and parents how these technologies can be safely and powerfully used to communicate and collaborate.

Learning as Conversation and Messy Assessment: Truly educative experiences are often in short supply in schools today. Interactive experiences become engaging when they are meaningful for the learner. To help students authentically learn both the content and the process skills of the curriculum, educators should strive to engage students in meaningful conversations and activities. Technology tools can be invaluable aides in this process. Assessment should not be only multiple choice: To truly assess the understanding and present abilities of students, teachers need to embrace and utilize a variety of “messy assessment” strategies that can powerfully leverage technology for engagement and evaluation.

Both should be a lot of fun, I am really looking forward to this conference!

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