FETC 2015 Day 2

Another fantastic day at the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC). These are just the highlights that I experienced, of course, as there is so much going on at this conference that it is impossible to experience it all! Only 10 000 steps were taken today, but this is still a fair distance.

A MakerBot 3D printer at work.
A MakerBot 3D printer at work.

The day started with the STEM awards and keynote from Yuri Salnikoff of MakerBot, a 3D printer company. Every turn I take at FETC screams “3D printing is the way of the future”. There are several stands that display 3D printers and their various creations and Salnikoff certainly spoke convincingly on the future benefits to students having experience with these devices. Many presenters spoke on makerspaces, which do not necessarily require 3D printers, but these are often featured. Applications in school include having students design parts for CO2 cars, and downloading plans for various creations to assemble and learn from at the MakerBot website, such as an anatomically correct tyrannosaurus rex model.

Gerald Aungst presented a session called Digital Tools to Avoid a Zombie Apocalypse. Well now, how could you NOT attend this session? It wasn’t quite what I was expecting – I had hoped to hear about a project that he had implemented in one of his own classes, but instead he demonstrated a variety of useful tools by having the participants discuss how they would create a zombie apocalypse project in their own discipline areas. Suggestions included Padlet, a kind of digital tack board that you can type on or post attachments to, Plickers, which I mentioned yesterday, but I think are still a fun tool, and a few books from his library that were the source of his inspiration by John Medina and David Perkins. In short, John Medina’s brain rules were referenced, which are the ideal conditions for learning:

  1. Novelty
  2. Emotion
  3. Meaning before details
  4. Frequent breaks

Perkins’ book, Making Learning Whole, was used to introduce the concept of “elementitis”, a term for when teachers fill students’ brains with information that might be useful someday, not unlike a hoarder, rather than skills and concepts that are useful now.

Acrobat on the exhibit floor. She caught my attention, however, I cannot remember which vendor she was hired by...
Acrobat on the exhibit floor. She caught my attention, however, I cannot remember which vendor she was hired by…

I managed to catch a portion of an app development session that talked about Creserance, but I think the resource that was actually in use was MAD-Learn; since I was late to enter this session, I will need to explore this tool more over the next few days.

Diana Rendina gave an excellent session on creating your own makerspace at school, something that I am now fully convinced that every school should have. She has incorporated K’nex, Lego, chemistry, MaKey MaKey, Little Bits, Sphero, Skype, and many other engaging tools in her makerspace – the students at her school are incredibly fortunate to have this resource in their library. Essentially, makerspace projects make use of the resources at hand, but included a catapult building challenge, a cardboard arcade challenge, and lots of open discovery and play.

The final session for me was from David Lopez at Microsoft on Office Mix, a plugin for PowerPoint that enables you to turn the presentation software into a teaching tool, easily embedding instructional

Educational toys galore!
Educational toys galore!

videos, audio, screencaptures, resources from other sites such as Khan Academy (many others), and assessment tools. The whole package can be exported into a file that is easily read on a variety of devices, but Office Mix can only be used with versions of PowerPoint that allow this plugin to be installed. I was unable to load it on my Surface RT, but, as I understand it, I should be able to load it up on my laptop running Office 2013.

Although I capped my day off in the world’s lousiest hot tub, this was an inspiring day of learning from engaging teachers!

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