Cleveland, Tenn., teachers learn to use more technology in classroom

photo Dr. Carl Hite, president of Cleveland State Community College, takes an e-spin around an e-road Wednesday morning, during an e-driving lesson from Tim Blais, with the Tennessee Board of Regents eLearning Division. Hundreds of area teachers attended the third annual all-day conference on bringing more technology into classrooms. College and TBR staff wore tropical shirts because lunch had a Southern Luau theme.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Your cellphones are teaching devices, Robbie Melton of the Tennessee Board of Regents told about 300 area educators attending a Cleveland State Community College conference on bringing more technology to the classroom.

Melton, associate vice chancellor of elearning with the board of regents, says she is an education mobilist and an "app-ologist."

Hundreds of phone applications are available at no cost or little cost, she said, that turn cellphones and other devices, such as iPads, into teaching tools. From music to math, biology to health, she used apps on her cellphone and projected them on a screen to show teachers a world of possibilities.

"Think," Melton said. "If you can take your cellphone and have access to the World Book Encyclopedia, dissect a frog, the world just opens up on that telephone," she said. "Everyone you know has a cellphone. All we have to do is find how to use it. So we are already equipped. We just have to find the educational content. And that's what we are here for. We have collected over 50,000 apps for all phones from preschool to Ph.D. to workforce development."

Melton and her team make presentations throughout Tennessee and around the world.

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"We have folks here from across Tennessee and somoe from out of state, and every level from preschool to college," said Traci Wright, events coordinator for Cleveland State.

That explains the name, P-16 Conference, she said -- prekindergarten to college.

During a time of tight school budgets, Wright said, "teachers can leave excited because they have found something free or low cost. One of the session titles that got my attention is a workshop on 'So I Only Have One iPad.'"

The P-16 Summer Conference was founded three years ago by Dr. Ron Paige of Cleveland State. It started with 50 people the first year, and more than 300 are taking part this year, he said.

"I know what it's like to be in public education," Paige said. "So we have catered to those teachers. We have made it inexpensive but first-class."

As the conference began, Melton gave a nod to the swiftly changing aspect of technology.

"If you left your cellphone in your car, because it comes with a bag, you may be in trouble," she joked.