by Brian McDonough
CUE 2001: The Happiest Place on Earth
Keynote speaker Buzz Aldrin takes CUE attendees on An Education Odyssey
Almost within sight of the Magic Kingdom's Materhorn, CUE's National Spring Conference 2001 convened on May 17. Nearly 5,000 attendees prowled more than 200 vendor booths, sampling everything from Digital High School best practices to the latest multimedia software. A high percentage of attendees were local, enjoying the show's change from its usual Palm Springs venue. Seminars over the three-day event covered managing tech support, negotiating copyright law and video production, with one of the most popular being Debbie Silver's informal and often hilarious looks at engaging science students, managing stress and getting started as a new teacher.
But without a doubt, the central event was the keynote speaker, Buzz Aldrin, the second of only a dozen men to set foot on the moon. There was probably scarcely a person in the room who didn't recall watching Aldrin and Neil Armstrong make human history in that serene landscape 32 years ago.
"Here was a true American Hero and it was my great pleasure to be introduced to him. [His presentation] was a reminder of the value of a true primary source in education. The words of experience are often the most valuable of all," said Michael Wozniak, computer educator, Hillside Middle School, Simi Valley Unified
Aldrin talked about the moon and getting there, giving an inspiring account of the human ingenuity and then-unprecedented technological innovation behind the Apollo program. He brought the value of technology home to educators by pointing to a future in the stars - "Ultimately, manned exploration of other planets and also deeper into space when the technology arrives."
He talked about technological challenges such as the need for less expensive, reusable spacecraft, but he also discussed educational needs, and the role teachers play in getting humankind off this planet. Aldrin marveled at the persistent fringe rumor that the entire Apollo landing was faked on a terrestrial soundstage, and called on teachers to combat such misinformation, which was even contained in a Fox TV special that speculated on how such a hoax could have been managed.
"We really did go to the moon," Aldrin assured the audience, calling on them to produce the next generation of explorers.
There was also time to recognize excellence. Kris Drake and Cynthia Chandler received the 2001 Gold Disk awards, celebrating their time and contributions as CUE members. Senator Jack O'Connell, D-Santa Barbara, received the Technology in Learning Leadership Award. O'Connell was co-author of AB 64, the genesis of the Digital High School Program, and the class-size reduction program. A special acknowledgement went to Richard Fabian who received the Platinum Disk Award for his extraordinary work in education technology.
On Friday, the last full day of programming, a dinner banquet featured engaging presentations from the Disney "imagineers" behind the new California Adventure attraction. Many attendees had taken the opportunity of being in Anaheim - and having discount tickets available to attendees - to check out the new attraction and the rest of the House that Walt Built. After the dinner, those with any energy after three days of heavy conferring took to the dance floor, where a DJ spun everything from Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" to Rick James' "Brick House." Relatively reliable reports indicate that no Schoolhouse Rock was played.
Saturday, the CUE crew packed up after the morning's exhibit hall closed, rushing back to our Alameda offices, where already plans for Fall CUE "Portals to Learning" show, October 11-13, in Sacramento are under way. If anyone has the Schoolhouse Rock album, please contact the show coordinators.
Brian McDonough is a freelance writer in Oakland, Calif. Copyright 2001 CUE, Inc.
For 23 years, educators have attended the CUE Conference, the longest-running education technology conferences in California, and one of the largest in the nation. For information on how to register for the Fall CUE Conference in Sacramento, Calif., please go to or call the CUE Office at 510/814-6630
|Buzz Aldrin (Photo by Dan Madsen)|
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