FETC 2015 Day 1

After my first day at the Florida Educational Technology Conference, I am exhausted. My Nike+ Fuelband says that I took a total of 16 532 steps today, however that did include a 4.4 kilometre run after the exhibit hall closed…

My morning breakfast companion. My wife tells me that this is an ibis; I thought it was an exotic-looking seagull.
My morning breakfast companion. My wife tells me that this is an ibis; I thought it was an exotic-looking seagull.

We started our day with a Photo Walk. The FETC committee was hoping to break a world record but I get the impression that we didn’t quite make it, given that they haven’t mentioned it since this morning.

We did, however, break a record for the number of simultaneous users on Kahoot at the Techshare Live session. If you haven’t used Kahoot, it is an online voting or quizzing tool that your students (or anybody) can use with any web-connected mobile or desktop. It’s very simple to use and engaging for the students. My vice principal pulled it out in a recent lesson and the students ate it right up. I’m not entirely sure where Kahoot is making money at this point, but it’s a neat tool.

Other great TechShare highlights include the Kano computer, the computer that “anyone can make”. It strikes me as more a computer that anyone can put together, but it’s a neat concept that makes use of the Raspberry Pi, something that I’m hoping to learn more about this FETC. Another fun tool is

Bamboo. As seen on the FETC 2015 Photo Walk.
Bamboo. As seen on the FETC 2015 Photo Walk.

Plickers, another means of surveying your students digitally, however this one is particularly useful when your mobile devices are limited – the students merely require pieces of paper with symbols on them that they hold in a variety of angles to answer your questions with. A remarkable device that was mentioned at the same session was UNI, a remarkable tablet that allows deaf and hard of hearing people to communicate with others and vice versa – a real game changer for students in this predicament who have been integrated into regular classrooms. Without having used UNI, I can’t even begin to say how important this invention will be in the classrooms of the future.

The exhibit floor. Rows and rows of nerdy teacher bliss.
The exhibit floor. Rows and rows of nerdy teacher bliss.

Finally, two more interesting creations are colAR, an app that takes turns them into interactive augmented reality characters – in the same colours that your child or student designed them in, and Elements 4D, seemingly normal blocks that reveal their contents (periodic table elements) when used with an app.

I also attended a session on D2L / Brightspace, which I found useful for learning more about intelligent agents – I plan to use the heck out of these, but I was happy to discover that my students have all accessed D2L within the last seven days, and an opening keynote from Jane McGonigal. I’ve written enough this evening, but let’s leave it with the fact that McGonigal was an engaging and convincing speaker on the benefits of the Gamification of education.

Can’t wait until tomorrow, FETC!


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