MEDIA RELEASE: Maine DOE Hosts Students Statewide for Virtual MLTI Student Conference

Maine students and teachers came together yesterday for a day of learning, collaboration, and innovative thinking at the 18th Annual Maine Learning Through Technology (MLTI) Student Conference.

Student Project: Maine Moose
Student Project: Maine Moose

Hosted by the Maine Department of Education (DOE) in partnership with CATES, the Conference was one of the largest synchronous student learning tech conference in the history of the world, with students from across Maine tuning in virtually to gain insights into the challenges facing Mainers during remote learning, how to develop innovations through peer collaboration to solve complex problems, and begin to develop the mindset of the social entrepreneur.

Student Project: You are important
Student Project: You are important

In addition to participating in a number of innovative synchronous Block Sessions and asynchronous activities using Gathertown as a virtual conference platform to learn new skills and deepen knowledge, conference participants also had the opportunity to work in teams to develop a product or innovation that addresses their chosen challenge (Mental Health Support; Equity in Education; Peer Collaboration; New Ways to Learn).

“Get ready to be REALLY creative today! Be bold with your ideas and be guided by your wildest imagination,” said Education Commissioner Pender Makin in her opening remarks. “Design and innovate as if the future depends upon in. Because in so many ways, it truly does.”

“[The pandemic] has given you a front row seat that will inform your experience with this year’s innovation challenge,” added Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah in his remarks during the conference.

Students’ groups “pitched” their product to conference participants, who voted for their favorite in each challenge category – 38 hours of innovative pitches were created on flipgrid!

“Your pitches demonstrate what amazing thinkers, problem solvers, designers, and engineers, you all are,” said Maine DOE Director of Innovative Teaching and Learning Beth Lambert. “Your work today and in the innovation challenge will lead the way for our state and the entire nation when it comes to redesigning remote learning and the shape of our public education system!”

Pre-Conference students got the opportunity to learn about the different challenges related to remote learning during the pandemic and their implications for Maine DECD’s 2030 Vision + Goals so they could research interesting reports, design frameworks, innovation protocols, videos, and other information related to their challenge.

After the Conference each team of students that wishes to continue on to Part II of the $10,000 Challenge is matched with a mentor to further develop their innovation or venture and submit “a demo”, “pitch deck”, and/or executive summary for their product. Challenge Grand Prize winners will be announced at special online awards ceremony featuring UMaine innovation leaders, and invited to continue developing their innovation through the CATES Center for Social Innovation Summer Incubator program in prep for a fall launch.

For more information about the conference and the Innovation Challenge visit the MLTI website: