Even if you didn’t need a reason to travel to sunny Orlando in January, the opportunity to attend FETC should have you packing your comfy walking shoes and an extra suitcase for all the swag. This is my 12th year attending FETC and I have never been more excited about the edtech trends being highlighted at this conference.
Security and data privacy workshops/sessions at FETC have tech leaders packing the house. With devices now integral tools in learning environments and so many of these devices in students’ hands, school districts, parents, and community members are hammering to find the right security options for their students. Cybersecurity companies are focusing their attention on providing school districts and parents with insurance that student safety and privacy both at school and in the home are guaranteed.
Educational scavenger hunts such as Breakout EDU peppered many of the sessions. The sessions focused on both professional-development applications and classroom applications. Microsoft OneNote was even a presence at some of the sessions. These types of educational scavenger hunts are trending as participants must work together to solve a variety of clues to open the Breakout EDU strongbox. The sessions I attended demonstrated the problem-solving skills needed to reach the goal and the teacher energy was through the roof!
Today’s technology-rich classrooms are clawing to get at the latest game-based learning tools and digital applications. Long gone are the early 2000s edtech games such as Reader Rabbit and Carmen Sandiego. The Game Based Learning Pavilion at FETC is a highlight for many of the conference attendees. The Agents of Discovery platform was one of the highlighted applications that transforms mobile devices into augmented reality (AR) games.
You know those people—the ones who always have the neatest toys before anyone else? Well, teachers at FETC can be the “cool kids” on the block. This year, FETC introduced a Hands-On Technology Lab where conference participants can check out the edtech toys that will make all the other teachers in their buildings green with envy.
Coding… coding… everyone is coding! Session after session and exhibitor after exhibitor highlighted the infinite possibilities for creativity and collaboration when students are engaged in coding. From kindergarten to college level, companies such as Osmo, Ozobot, LittleBits and Pi-Top are providing teachers with curriculum-rich, standards-based lessons that will prepare students for the 21½ century.
Interactive platforms have become very comprehensive. They offer teachers engaging lessons, virtual reality (VR) and AR experiences, video options, and real-time assessments. Students take ownership of their learning through the variety of personalized assessment and instructional choices. There are a few companies to check out, including Nearpod and Genius Plaza, which both emphasize cultural relevance and the connection to students’ social and emotional development.
Edtech giants are in the house at this conference. Apple, Microsoft, and Google presentations both in the exhibit hall and in the session rooms. Google did not have a booth since they are at BETT in London, and they were definitely missed. These edtech companies continue to show their commitment to providing teachers with the tools and support to integrate technology in classrooms and online. All three provided no-cost certification events for educators, and teachers were seen walking the halls with their Google, Apple, and Microsoft educator badges with pride. Not to be left out, BrainPOP as usual had “popping good” certification events as well. It is evident from the workshops, sessions, and special events that the trend is for teachers and school districts to use a variety of products to provide students with technology-rich instruction.
Finally, it is time to give a shout out to a new start-up company Hippo Video. I had time to get a one-on-one presentation from its co-founders. Hippo Video’s platform is a screen, voice, and webcam recorder that focuses on the flipped-classroom model. One of the first things that drew me to the product is that it is a Chrome extension. Once installed, it is an option in Google Classroom as an assignment and can be embedded in Google Docs. I was also impressed with the screen-recording features. Using a presentation tool, a teacher can record a lesson that has both video and voice. With the same features, students can record their understanding of a lesson, topic, or project. This interactive interface provides so many possibilities for both synchronous and asynchronous learning.
I have only touched on a few of the many trending, innovative, and interactive edtech products and tech-integration applications. While I have mentioned a few products and companies, there are many more to check out at FETC 2018. I can’t guarantee that you will find every product or solution for your classroom or district at this conference, but I can guarantee that you will leave FETC 2018 with renewed energy and a tool belt full of innovative ideas that will have you purchasing your plane tickets for FETC 2019!