Before FETC, I wrote a blog post outlining my focus and my predictions. I predicted that there would be a focus on Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Coding, and Makerspace. I was surprised by the small amount of Makerspace displays I saw. However, I was able to get my first real experience of Augmented Reality which really opened up my mind to the possibilities and opportunities this technology could bring into the classroom. Others in my group were disappointed with the some of the Virtual Reality displays. It appears that there were several vendors advertising 360 video as Virtual Reality.
I decided to focus on coding in education and digital tools for the math classroom.
Coding in Education: The coding tool I am most excited to try out after looking around the FETC Exhibit floor is Tynker. From a first glance, I could see that Tynker was different because it works with students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. It is designed to guide students from coding blocks to using various coding languages. I also like that they work with Hour of Code and have integrated projects that connect coding to other subjects.
Digital Tools for the Math Classroom: I found a couple mathematics programs that I am interested in trying out. The program that stuck out to me the most was Woot Math. Woot Math seemed like a combination of Nearpod and Kahoot but with a graphing feature, making it more applicable to Math. If students give the wrong answer, it shows them a video. It also allows the teacher to see the students work not just their answer. Woot Math is focused on Fractions at the moment so their resources have not yet expanded into other areas of Math.
All in all, I could really dive into the exhibit hall this year. I experienced Augmented Reality for the first time, was able to participate in some amazing networking opportunities, and host my first workshop! I can’t help but look forward to my next conference!
Posted on Jan 23 ,2017
Posted in Conferences, FETC 2017
This year FETC hosts over 400 exhibitors and 650 presenters covering numerous topics, strategies, products, tools, and professional development opportunities. Needless to say, you are going to be overwhelmed with information and may have a hard time keeping track of all the great digital tools you come across. Plus, it can be hard to know what questions to ask when talking to different companies about their products. I am here to help you out!
Before you arrive at FETC come up with a focus. What topic are you most interested in learning about? Why do you want to use technology in the classroom? Is there a specific purpose, curriculum or learning goal you want to help your students achieve? Obviously, you are going to want to check out everything you can but having a focus or a purpose will help you spend your time more wisely.
To help you navigate the exhibit floor, I have prepared a google form with a series of questions to ask the vendors. Once you have filled out as much of the form as you can, submitting the form will send a copy of your answers to the email you provided. That way, by the time you get home, you will not only have a list of the products you discovered but also some pivotal information that will help you in deciding whether the tool will be beneficial for you and your students.
This is how your time in the exhibit hall may look without having a focus or using the google form…
- You have checked out about 100 vendors
- You have a bag full of random business cards, posters, brochures, etc.
- You get home and throw out most of the business cards, brochures, etc because you can’t remember what the products are and you don’t have time to look them all up
- You remember maybe 2 – 3 products and decide to try one out
This is how your time in the exhibit hall could look…
- You wander the floor looking for a tool that catches your eye
- You listen to their sales pitch and decide whether the tool seems to align with your purpose or focus
- You open the google form and ask them the questions in the form
- You get home with a bag full of business cards, poster, brochures, etc
- You check your email and have a list of 10+ products that you thought might be beneficial with information on what the product is, the features it has, and how it aligns to your goals
Click here to go to the google form! You may want to save a hardcopy; internet access can be touch and go in the exhibit hall. If you want more information on evaluating and integrating digital tools check out my book How to Integrate and Evaluate Educational Technology.
This year I have the privilege of not only attending the FETC 2017 Conference in Orlando, Florida but I will be hosting a workshop on integrating game-based learning and gamification tools into the classroom. I am so excited to share the information I have learned through my Master of Education with other educators interested in gamifying their classrooms. Last year, I was advised to choose a few things to focus on to make it easier to consolidate. I have decided to do that again, so this year I will be focusing on the following:
- Coding in Education: I find that a lot of educators are not evaluating coding tools effectively. Yes, students can get engaged into coding games and activities. However, are those coding tools teaching your students to code or are they learning how to play a game or use a program? I want to find some coding tools that effectively teach students how to code!
- Digital Tools for the Math Classroom: Math has always been my focus, so it would not make sense for me to exclude it as a focus. I will be looking for tools, strategies, and integration techniques for implementing digital tools into the math classroom.
I also like to give a prediction as to which topics will be popular for FETC 2017. For this year, I feel like the most popular topics will be the following:
- Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality in the Classroom
- Coding in the Classroom
Check back through this week for updates and reflections on what I have learned at FETC as well as links to my workshop materials.