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3 Biggest Takeaways from FETC 2018

The Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) recently wrapped up, but we'll certainly be thinking about these three major insights until next year's convention.

“So what does technology mean for your students?”

For most of this week, the Solodev team made camp at Booth 741 of FETC. And with every tech educator we spoke to, we heard their passion for students, for innovation, and for using technology to constantly improve the classroom. New software can help teachers understand where students struggle in assessments and comprehension, inform communities through more accessible websites, and make tech ed’s lives easier by automating certain tasks.

We wanted to hear more from FETC attendees, so we asked them what the tech on display could mean for their students.

1) FETC offered unique, insightful solutions -- and swag.

Sure, conventions have some great giveaways, but that's not the *only* reason people attend these conferences. For teachers like Sarah Bills of Regional School District No. 6 in Connecticut, individual elements like the keynotes were exactly what they needed to get new insights.

"The keynotes have been really informative and I enjoy walking the floor and talking to vendors,” Bills said.

Jennifer Brown is the Technology Resource Teacher at Walker Middle Magnet School in Hillsborough County, Florida. She’s a veteran of FETC, and 2018 marked 10 years of attending. She said she comes back for the new educational technologies and to see how other counties in her area are applying those innovations.

“Technology for technology’s sake is not what we are looking to bring back,” she told the Solodev team. “We want to see how the technology can enhance and enrich the curriculum.  Technology in schools has to be purposeful and that is what is great about FETC - you get to meet other educators with the same passion as you have for helping our students be truly prepared for life.”

But, even though swag wasn't the sole reason people stopped by the Solodev table, it certainly helped get people to the booth. Or maybe it was our spacesuits and character-filled booth...

Bills owned up to the allure of free stuff.

“To be completely honest, the Solodev t-shirt totally drew me in – it’s cool!"

2) Technology needs to meet students on the platforms they use.

A growing trend at FETC was a growing emphasis on moving websites beyond desktops. With so many students having tablets and smartphones in their hands at younger ages, edu tech fans have an opportunity to better the student experiences on a platform they love. It’s something Ashley Augustine certainly sees as a 5th grade teacher from Lecanto Primary School in Lecanto, Florida. Augustine told us she’s curious as to how tablet and smartphone-based software can help her students.

“I really love the world of options for apps,” she noted. “I’m learning so much about what new technology is available, and that’s exciting.”

For Brown, she said technology provides more than additional help with curriculum:

“At my school, we use technology every day. I have about 14 classrooms that have 1:1 devices and those students are not only learning the curriculum, but they are learning computer skills, collaboration skills, creativity skills, and so much more through their use of technology.Technology is going to continue to be a large part of our world and we have to teach our students how to use it to communicate, collaborate, create, problem solve, and to do so in a professional and substantial way. Having technology in classrooms allows teachers to teach their curriculum in these new ways so students are learning how technology can be an amazing tool when used for more than just social media.”

3) Websites go far beyond the classroom.

Between school lunch menus, summer reading schedules, athletic event calendars, and parent meetings, a school website houses information beyond the simple tools of a classroom. It can serve as a hub for entire communities, and ed tech specialists like Kim Bolser realize this firsthand.

Bolser serves as the Director of Experience Development at Meteor Education. She said FETC was a great platform for meeting with both administrators and teachers and for unlocking the classroom experience. She talked to us about the critical role of websites as communication tools for schools:   “I think school websites are really important connection points for parents and teachers,” she said. “They help build connections within communities, and that’s what teaching is all about.”

Brown said she agreed, going on to say that websites often form the basis of communication.

“School websites are a great form of communication for our whole school community,” she said. “It can be a one stop shop for all the information you need to know about the school, upcoming events, classwork, homework, and the daily happenings at our school.”

Community connections -- they’re the ultimate goal of all websites. At Solodev, we love hearing about moments when schools used our platform to put important information in the hands of website users. For example, cash-strapped Seminole County Public Schools needed a website that was an easy hub for the district and its individual school websites. The Solodev team reimagined what a district website (and its individual school websites) could do while also empowering non-IT personnel to add and edit content for their students.

As FETC Presenter Eric Sheninger mentioned in his workshop, “We don’t need to prepare our students for something, we need to prepare our students for anything!”

And just like their students, schools have to be prepared for anything. Future proof your technology education by attending FETC. Future proof your website by moving to the Solodev web experience platform.

Shelby Rogers
Contributions Editor here at Solodev. Want to be featured on the Solodev Blog? Get in touch.
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