1,100 plus expected at student laptop conference in Orono

Four students will kick off the day with presentations showing how they’ve put technology to work in innovative, globally relevant ways

It’s been nearly a decade since the launch of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, which has equipped Maine middle- and high-school students with laptops and made technology an integral part of their learning.

On Thursday, May 26, more than 1,100 students, teachers and parents will overtake the University of Maine campus in Orono for the eighth annual MLTI Student Conference.

The daylong gathering will feature three primary sessions:

  • Block 1 will highlight four Maine students who have used MLTI as a launching pad into programming, film and making connections with fellow students from across the globe. Taking inspiration from the TED Talks, the student presenters include a Yarmouth High School student who has connected Maine and Iraqi students through email and Skype to help break down stereotypes and a student from Oak Hill High School who is collaborating with programmers around the globe and who has licensed some of his software to Apple.
  • Block 2 will feature an assortment of sessions that will allow students to become experts in using GarageBand, iMovie, Bento and other software that comes standard on MLTI laptops. Students can also choose from sessions that focus on online privacy (or a lack thereof) and using software and online tools to publish a book.
  • Block 3, the so-called Über-session, will feature all 1,100 attendees collaborating simultaneously on their laptops — in the same auditorium — toward a culminating project.

A specially configured high-density wireless network will allow the more than 1,100 people on campus for the conference to log onto the Internet simultaneously.

This year’s confab will also feature ten $1,000 scholarships from the University of Maine’s College of Electrical and Computer Engineering and two $1,000 scholarships from the College of Education and Human Development as door prizes. There will also be a “Shadow Conference” for Maine teachers focused on techniques for integrating technology into classroom instruction.

“The MLTI Student Conference is focused on helping students use their MLTI laptops and the resources that come with them toward educational ends,” said Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen. “This is something that could only be done in Maine, where we have the infrastructure in the form of laptops for all seventh and eighth graders and a majority of high-school students.”

For more details, visit the conference website.