The Texas Computer Education Association’s 29th annual conference opened Feb. 4 with a dynamic, student-produced video demonstrating how technology is transforming education and empowering kids at Klein Independent School District’s Krimmel Intermediate School.

Set to pulsating music (used with permission under the Creative Commons license), the video captured students using tablet PCs to record themselves speaking in foreign-language classes, so they can replay the audio and practice their pronunciation. It also showed them collaborating on projects, doing research online, and presenting what they’ve learned.

"We’re plugged in," the video concluded. "Are you?"

After screening the video for the thousands of educators attending the three-day conference in Austin–one of the largest ed-tech events in the nation–Candace Threadgill, vice president of the convention, went live to Krimmel students through a real-time videoconferencing feed.

The students said they use tablet PCs every day in their classes and at home. "It’s truly a 24-7 learning experience," said one student. "We’re able to customize our learning."

The theme of TCEA’s conference is "Accelerate Technology," and that’s what a partnership between TCEA and the Verizon Foundation aims to do for Texas educators. The two organizations have teamed up for a program that trains the state’s teachers how to use Verizon’s free learning and literacy platform, Thinkfinity.org.

The site contains a wealth of free digital resources that teachers can use in their classrooms. For example, to help celebrate Black History Month, teachers and their students can listen to black scientists, immerse themselves in 1920s Harlem, and trace the Underground Railroad–all while discovering the contributions of African Americans to U.S. history.

At the conference’s opening general session, a Verizon Foundation executive presented Threadgill with a check for $70,500 to expand Thinkfinity training to more of the state’s teachers.

(Editor’s note: For more live coverage of this year’s TCEA conference in Austin Feb. 4-6, visit the TCEA Conference Information Center page at eSN Online: http://www.eschoolnews.com/conference-info/tcea.)