Thursday, February 02, 2006

MECA 2006 Conference Wrap-up

Well, I didn't get any more postings completed as the conference went along, so this will be just a brief wrap-up of the sessions and experiences we had at the MS Educational Computing Association (MECA) annual conference in Jackson, MS.

For me, the main focus of the conference was participation by the Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE) and how they provided such stellar leadership in sessions and workshops. Actually, I was the only ADE from Mississippi who participated in this year's conference, because ADE Kameron Ball from Mississippi had a very sick baby and was unable to attend.

Dr. Carl Owens led multiple hands-on workshops dealing with the new iLife '06 suite of applications that Apple had released only a couple of weeks ago. And, the new additions are just fantastic. It was particularly fun for me to see the faces of workshop participants and hear their voices as they were coming out of the hands-on lab. Such excitement! Carl always has a bag of his newest "techno-toys," too, and that's a highlight for the Mississippi educators--who have come to expect such things from Carl. They think he is so cool!

Anthony Robinson gave great workshops, too, including one on digital storytelling that was particularly well-received. Too, he led a session about his recent experiences as a Fulbright Scholar, spending six weeks in the Czech Republic. Besides giving workshops and sessions alone, he helped other ADEs during their workshops and sessions.

Julene Reed was my very special sidekick in the sessions we led. Perhaps you have read, already, about the phenomenal success we had in our hands-on workshop, Podcasting: From Start to Finish in 90 Minutes, that we gave on Monday night from 8:00-9:30 (even though the participants didn't leave the room until after 10:30!!!!). She and I presented two other sessions: Podcasting and Podcatching for the Absolute Beginner, followed by Podcasting Studio Construction Kit: Soup to Nuts. Both sessions were very well attended.

Although Mississippi had been hit extremely hard by Hurricane Katrina and many schools are barely functioning currently, the conference attendance was up by more than 100 people this year! That is a tremendous attribution to the resilience of Mississippi educators who are determined to stand together and make this a positive experience. Even in the midst of the tear-jerking reports from the MS Gulf Coast schools, there was laughter and applause that roared still louder. I am so proud to be a Mississippian, particularly at such a time as this!

Now, why don't you make plans to attend the MECA Conference next year? It's scheduled for January 31-February 2, 2007 in Jackson, MS. Y'all come...ya hear?

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