Personalized Learning & Student Creativity are at Focus of FETC 2017

by Mickey McFetridge – FETC Insider & Technology Integration Specialist for Springdale School District. Follow him on Twitter @MickMack629 and catch his blog Class Tech Integrate

The 37th annual FETC Conference was the first FETC conference that I had the pleasure of attending. It was everything I expected and more: Expo Hall, Huge Keynotes, Fantastic Breakout Sessions, the list goes on and on. All gave attendees an excellent look at current and future tech in the classroom. What I left most excited about wasn’t all the new tech tools for the school building; rather how the conference and presenters really focused on how EdTech can support personalized learning and student creativity.

When many ask about EdTech they ask, “what website or app will help teach my student this concept or how to work that problem?” While these supports may start out as engaging for students and can help build skill, it isn’t where the true transformation of technology in the classroom takes place. The FETC conference placed much more focus on the transformational usage of EdTech in the classroom than the skill building apps and websites can offer alone.

These were common themes that stood out to me during FETC:

  • Students setting their own goals
  • Self-selected assessments of student learning
  • Student choice in which edtech tools to use to display knowledge
  • Student created media (video, 360/virtual)
  • Portfolio/Resume creation
  • Maker Spaces: Learning problem solving, perseverance, and soft skills
  • Student reflection through the use of media tools

The common thread, students shift from a consumer to a creator giving them voice and choice. That is transforming learning with technology!

The power of attending a conference like FETC isn’t about just learning these topics, but actually hearing teachers and administrators testimonials about their experiences with these ideas. Having those conversations and making those connections are so powerful for any educator at any comfort level with EdTech.

The next time a fellow educator asks you, “Hey, can you give me an app or website that will teach my kids fractions?” Go ahead and give them that suggestion, but then be sure to follow it up with, “let me also suggest some tools that will give your students some creative freedom and voice!”