GREENFIELD — Teachers still get excited talking about the success stories — the students who shot marketing videos for nonprofits in need, the bond made between children countries apart when connected via Skype.
Educators gathered this week to swap stories of the ways technology has changed the way they teach — and to share tips about what works best.
This week’s AppleMania conference is one of more than 20 e-learning conferences hosted across the state in June and July as state leaders encourage schools to think beyond pen and paper.
Roughly 300 educators, including many from Southern Hancock and Greenfield-Central, spent two days discovering new ways to incorporate tech — whether through programs students can use or apps to keep teachers organized.
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This year marked the third time the county school districts partnered to organize the conference, which is advertised by the Indiana Department of Education and open to teachers across the state.
Breakout sessions walked educators through ways to use online apps like Google Classroom and Moodle, virtual meeting spaces where students and teachers that allows teachers to send assignments and create discussions.
One session featured ways educators can use YouTube to record class for absent students or make videos with students to change up their lesson presentation.
Another featured the app Toontastic, which gives users an opportunity to tell stories by drawing and recording their own cartoons.
The head of the state’s education department, Jennifer McCormick, congratulated educators on their efforts to find new ways to reach their students, whether through apps children already know or new programs specifically designed for education, and encouraged them to keep learning about more.
McCormick, who took office earlier this year but spent the better part of her career in the classroom, served as the keynote speaker for AppleMania.
More than 75 percent of Hoosier school districts have a laptop, iPad or computer for every student in some grade levels, McCormick said Friday as she addressed attendees during the day’s first session. But only 35 percent of districts offer the devices to every student.
Indiana still has far to go in ensuring all students have access computers at school, she said.
Conferences like the one hosted at Greenfield Central Junior High School this week are becoming more important in achieving that goal.
For Melia Hammons, a chance to network with teachers was invigorating. Hammons is the newly appointed principal of Eden Elementary, and she knows even her youngest learners already have experience with computers and handheld devices.
Her students are excited using technology, she said, and it’s educators’ jobs to prepare them for careers that will require them to use different types of technology.
And she feels empowered knowing McCormick is a champion of trying new things.
“She’s doing a great job of pushing the message out about what our teachers need to be doing,”she said.