Empowering Educators: Insights from the 2024 MACUL Conference

Greetings, educators and tech enthusiasts! The Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) recently concluded its 48th Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here are some key takeaways.

1. Conference Overview

The conference was a dynamic convergence of innovation and collaboration, offering educators a rich tapestry of experiences designed to elevate teaching and learning in the digital age.

  • Cutting-Edge Tools and Strategies:  With over 300 educational sessions led by passionate EdTech leaders, attendees gained access to a treasure trove of cutting-edge tools, classroom resources, and innovative learning strategies.
  • Expo Hall Exploration:  The Expo Hall buzzed with energy as attendees explored hundreds of tools and technologies. From interactive displays to hands-on demos, educators discovered ways to transform their classrooms and districts.
  • Networking: Networking opportunities abounded, allowing educators to connect with like-minded professionals and exchange ideas.

2. Inspiring Keynotes

  • The conference featured captivating keynote speakers:
    • Cornelius Minor: Cornelius’ opening keynote set the tone for the event, emphasizing the power of technology in education.
    • Holly Clark: Holly took a deep dive into the wide array of experiences available in today’s AI world and explored the differences between them.
    • Leslie Fisher: Leslie highlighted tips, tricks, new features, and some of the easiest-to-use, popular solutions used in EdTech today.  She also introduced attendees to some new solutions as well.
    • Mireya Mayor: Mireya, the closing keynote, talked about what it means to be an audacious explorer and why it matters now more than ever to pursue your dreams.

3. AI in the Spotlight

    • Comparing Three of AI-Language Models: Chatgpt, Gemini, Copilot
    • SchoolAI Sidekick:  Imagine a multilingual student carrying an iPad with their trusty Sidekick. In any class, the Sidekick can make content more comprehensible by providing real-time translations, summaries, and adaptations.  The teacher can manage the Sidekick ensuring that it helps the student but does not supply answers to homework assignments.
    • Brisk: A Chrome Extension with Superpowers:  With a single click, it can summarize, translate, and generate requested educational material such as quizzes or PowerPoint presentations.
    • Adobe Dub Dub Dub: Multilingual Video Magic:  (This project was demonstrated at the conference and will soon be available to the general public.) Dubbing videos into multiple languages has never been easier. Adobe Dub Dub Dub automates the process, syncing lip movements and preserving the voice of the original speaker. Users will be able to provide content in up to 70 different languages and 140 dialects.
    • Microsoft Reading Coach (with Immersive Reader): Explore personalized, AI-powered reading fluency practice for all learners. Students read to the computer.  The computer grades their fluency and provides additional practice exercises for challenging words.
    • Diffit: This versatile tool develops resources adaptable to any grade level and translates them into various languages with a single click.
    • Iorad: Allows users to create click-through instructional videos forcing students to complete the steps and better learn the process.
  • Other Tools and Resources
    • Although not focusing on AI, Lissa Brunan’s “Secrets of a Digitally Organized Educator” was also a very valuable session.  In it, Participants discovered tips and tricks to keep your digital life organized across Google Drive, Chrome, Gmail, and beyond. A Collaborative Chrome Extension List was provided for attendees to share their most useful and beloved tools.
    • Eric Curts presented The AI Toolbox: Best AI Tools for Schools.  In Eric’s presentation, he provided an extensive list of AI Tools.  Please feel free to look through his list and find the tool that will help you take your teaching to the next level.

4. Closing Thoughts

The 2024 MACUL Conference was a celebration of innovation, collaboration, and the relentless pursuit of better education.  While this article has highlighted a handful of valuable tools and resources, the event featured numerous sessions and an abundance of additional resources beyond what’s mentioned here. For more information, please visit the MACUL website.

As you continue your journey, remember that these tools are not just for tomorrow – they’re for today. Thank you for being part of this learning revolution! 🌟

P.S. Please note that the image and a significant portion of the content in this article were created with the assistance of AI technology. As you examine the image, pay attention to the details in the lettering. Errors in spelling may indicate that the image was generated by AI. 😉