Learning through technology educators

Last week, I had the opportunity to spend two full days at the annual conference of the Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine (ACTEM). To say I was impressed and inspired by what I experienced would be an understatement. Maine has long been looked to as a national leader when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom and the energy and expertise I saw in the hundreds of technology educators at the conference proved why.

I was especially impacted by the session I attended entitled “A Day in the iPad Empowered Elementary Classroom.” To see how Maine educators are using technology to change the way they teach students is almost as exciting as seeing how students – including those only in Kindergarten – are responding.

Maine kids are being engaged and empowered as leaders in their own learning through these new tools in ways that many adults like me can’t even imagine. It is critical we keep up with their appetite and aptitude by finding innovative ways to leverage technology to continue to improve not just the experience of our students but their academic achievement.

I want to thank Maine’s many technology educators who are doing just that in classrooms across the state every day. Not only are you enhancing the educational environment for our students, but you are better preparing them for success in 21st century college and careers. I also want to congratulate Jessica Dunton from SeDoMoCha Elementary School and Corey Norman from Southern Maine Community College who received ACTEM’s Educator of the Year awards and Terri Dawson from Gorham Middle School and Deborah Barrows from A.R. Gould School who received ACTEM’s Technology Leader of the Year awards. I look forward to personally working much more closely with our state’s many talented technology educators and making sure they are at the table as we move ahead on critical initiatives that will create better outcomes for Maine students including the transition to a computerized State assessment that will first be administered next spring.

Just as Maine schools are committed to leveraging technology to meaningfully transform teaching and learning, so are we at the Maine DOE. Many of you may be surprised to learn that there is actually no “MLTI Team” at the Department. Rather, we have a Learning Through Technology (LTT) Team that not only oversees the deployment of 70,000 laptops and tablets in Maine schools for MLTI, but also brings online Advanced Placement courses to hundreds of Maine high school students, provides dozens of technology related professional development sessions and relevant resources to Maine educators including school librarians, advances distance learning opportunities and so much more.

Moving forward, we are working to better integrate that team’s work into the Maine DOE’s larger academic efforts so all Maine kids have access to anywhere, anytime learning.  To help make those important connections across Maine and across our Department is Sherry Wyman, who I have just named as the Acting Director of the LTT Team.

Sherry has been a School Library Media Specialist in Maine for more than 20 years. She was a former MLTI Teacher Leader and has also provided a number of Professional Development offerings for Maine educators through the Sebago Educational Alliance and ACTEM. Many of you have gotten to know Sherry well since she joined the Department last year as our School Library/Technology Integration Coordinator, which combined her library background with organizing MLTI’s ongoing professional development offerings. In that work, her goal has been to strengthen school library programming by supporting, consulting, and connecting teacher librarians with 21st Century technologies, promoting leadership and quality instruction, and advocating the value and importance of the school librarian/library in every Maine school, and she’ll continue to do that in her new role.

As we work to better incorporate learning technology into the Department and define the expectations of the next permanent LTT Team Director we will soon begin the search for, we  we want to hear from you.  If you have any feedback on how the Department can better support learning technology and the educators who leverage it, please contact Sherry at sherry.wyman@maine.gov or connect with me directly at commish.doe@maine.gov.