Monday, January 18, 2016

FETC - Future of Education Technology Conference (Part 1)

Last week, I had the opportunity to take a few members of our district's technology planning committee to Orlando, Florida for the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC). I know, you think Orlando in January, and you think it is just a fun get-away. You would be wrong. This conference was outstanding. The sessions were meaningful and covered issues that were relevant to quality education and learning. Another important quality of the sessions was that the sessions were run by teachers and administrators, talking about their experiences. Many conferences are comprised of sessions sponsored by vendors.

This first post will focus on the Keynotes.

The opening keynote was Reshma Saujani (@reshmasaujani), who is the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. She shared her story and experiences as well as framing a need in America. There is a need for our students to understand engineering and technology. She was a huge supporter of STEM education and wants to close the gender gap in the areas of computer science and tech. That is why she formed Girls Who Code. Her goal is to provide computer science education and exposure to over 1 million girls by 2020, through summer camps and after-school programs.

The next keynote was Leland Melvin (@astro_flow), former NFL football player and astronaut. He shared his story of growing up with teacher parents, exposure to engineering activities, perseverance, and support. Here is a short video of his story. His ability to overcome failures and setbacks was impressive and motivating. We need to help our students experience setbacks and show determination to overcome them.

The last keynote was Sean McComb (@Mr_McComb), the 2014 National Teacher of the Year. He created a program for his school called AVID. This program allowed him and other teachers in his school to move with a group of students through all 4 years of high school. By building relationships, and using those relationships to encourage and push the students, they were able to increase their students’ achievement. Almost all of that group of students was accepted into a 4-year university. Here is a clip from one of his keynotes. His story is clear about the power of teacher/student connections, and the powerful impact teachers have.

I will post again soon, with some information about the concurrent sessions that were conducted.

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