Taking a concept that debuted with last fall’s T+L² Conference to a whole new level, more than 60 volunteer educators came together to report on more than 125 concurrent sessions at the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) held in Orlando Jan. 26-28. The result is unprecedented access for readers of eSchool News Online to literally hours of key advice culled from the show.

“There’s a reason so many thousands of educators go to ed-tech conferences each year,” said Dan David, online editor of eSchool News. “When like-minded people on the cutting edge of school technology get together, valuable information is bound to emerge, and that information is helpful to all educators.”

Strongly believing that some of the best ideas and solutions truly do come up at these conferences, eSchool News initiated its Conference Correspondents program last year. The idea was simple: Find educators attending the sessions at the conference and have them file reports for eSchool News readers unable to attend specific sessions or unable to attend at all this year.

The eSchool News editors unveiled the program at last year’s National School Boards Association’s T+L² Conference in Denver. Thanks to a big boost from AlphaSmart, which donated 20 AlphaSmart Neo computer companions for those participating in Denver, the NSBA experience was a tremendous success and raised the bar for future events.

At last week’s FETC in Orlando, the Conference Correspondents came out in full force. This time, armed with a whopping 50 Neos, more than 60 correspondents joined forces to cover more than 125 of the conference’s 200-plus sessions. It was an unprecedented effort that is not yet over.

“So much copy has flowed into eSchool News over the past seven days–by Neo and by eMail–that we are still in the process of posting it all,” David reported.

  • Check out pictures of the eSN Conference Correspondents!

    In any case, the goal was reached: eSchool News Online is now able to provide readers with almost all of the wit and wisdom imparted at FETC in Orlando. The body of knowledge from FETC now is available online along with reports from last fall’s NSBA’s T+L² conference.

    Later this month, reports will be available from the Texas Computer Education Association conference in Austin and from the American Association of School Administrators meeting in San Antonio. Throughout 2005, eSchool News Online will bring readers news and information from the Consortium for School Networking meeting in Washington, D.C., the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development conference in Orlando, the National Education Computing Conference in Philadelphia, and the 2005 T+L² meeting in Denver. (Educators attending any of these conferences who wish to volunteer as an eSchool News Conference Correspondent should send an eMail message to Online Editor David: ddavid@eschoolnews.org.)

    So far, though, the bellwether for conference reporting is eSN‘s coverage of FETC. “It would take hours for any educator to digest all of this information, but all of it is truly worth reading,” David said. “To give our readers an idea of what’s now available to them, we have highlighted 10 reports that exemplify the best in session reporting from FETC. These outstanding accounts were written by volunteers who came to the conference for the same reason our readers choose eSchool News–because they want to enhance the educational experience of students in their schools.”

    Ten of the top Conference Correspondent articles are presented here in alphabetical order by author’s name. For complete access to reports from all 125-plus sessions, visit the eSchool News Online Conference Information Center (CIC) web site: http://www.eschoolnews.org/cic.

  • Session: Not Your Father’s PDA!
    Time: Jan. 27 at 1:30 p.m.
    Presenters: Peggy Long and Shelley Eisner
    Reviewed by: Marsha Burmeister, Ed. D., (Reporting Director of Emerging Instructional Technologies at the Fischler School of Education, Nova Southeastern University)

    Summary: This session looked at uses for handheld computers in schools, focusing on the needs of both administrators and teachers.

    Link: http://www.eschoolnews.org/cic/fetc/blog/2005/01/000502.php

  • Session: Creating Unique Multimedia Presentations
    Time: Jan. 28 at 8:30 a.m.
    Presenters: Patrick McGee and Steve Cacchio
    Reviewed by: Keith Chong (Prinicipal of Capitol Hill Elementary School in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada)

    Summary: This session demonstrated student-produced video clips and explained all of the tools used to create the videos.

    Link: http://www.eschoolnews.org/cic/fetc/blog/2005/01/000541.php

  • Session: The One Computer Classroom–Still Sharing the Ultimate Resource
    Time: Jan. 27 at 8:30 a.m.
    Presenter: Marsha Burmeister Reviewed by: Kim Clemmons (Director of Teacher Training and Resource Center for Wilson County Schools in Lebanon, Tenn.)

    Summary: This session explained how educators can make a one-computer classroom an asset and give students the best possible experience of technology.

    Link: http://www.eschoolnews.org/cic/fetc/blog/2005/01/000513.php

  • Session: Collaboration–The Real Power Behind Videoconferencing
    Time: Jan. 28 at 8:30 a.m.
    Presenters: Howard Gunther, Barbara Haeffner, and Josh Smith
    Reviewed by: Laura Conley (Instructional Technology Specialist with Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools in Savannah, Ga.)

    Summary: This session told the story of teachers from Connecticut who are doing wonders with videoconferencing in the classroom.

    Link: http://www.eschoolnews.org/cic/fetc/blog/2005/01/000539.php

  • Session: Meeting Science Standards with Digital Animation
    Time: Jan. 27 at 8:30 a.m.
    Presenter: Jeff Boyer
    Reviewed by: Gaby Eyzaguirre (MS Technology Coordinator for Colegio Roosevelt, The American School of Lima-Peru)

    Summary: This session looked at ways of getting students excited about the sciences through the use of multimedia.

    Link: http://www.eschoolnews.org/cic/fetc/blog/2005/01/000477.php

  • Session: Collaborative Technology Projects: Our Favorites!
    Time: Jan. 27 at 3 p.m.
    Presenters: Keith Kyker and Christopher Curchy of SchoolTV.org
    Reviewed by: Jill Greiner (Assistant Director of the Information Technology Department at Manheim Township School District in Lancaster, Pa.)

    Summary: See how several grades in an elementary school worked together on a production that showed the potential of technology integration.

    Link: http://www.eschoolnews.org/cic/fetc/blog/2005/01/000491.php

  • Session: I’ve Been There–Teaching Geography by Putting Your Students There
    Time: Jan. 27 at 1:30 p.m.
    Presenters: Richard Ponton and Efrain Diaz from the Manatee Middle School Inclusion and Lely High School ESOL Program.
    Reviewed by: Leslie Merryman (Coordinator of Research Programs at the University of Florida)

    Summary: Find out why students embraced learning about geography when “bluescreen” technology became a part in the lesson.

    Link: http://www.eschoolnews.org/cic/fetc/blog/2005/01/000509.php

  • Session: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things
    Time: Jan. 27 at 1:30 p.m.
    Presenter: Donna Baumbach
    Reviewed by: Karen Seddon (Instructional Technology Specialist for Online Learning with Osceola District Schools in Kissimmee, Fla.)

    Summary: Presenter Donna Baumbach is a perennial FETC favorite because she always unearths the coolest new technology tools for education. Find out what she was promoting this year.

    Link: http://www.eschoolnews.org/cic/fetc/blog/2005/01/000483.php

  • Session: Planning is the Key!
    Time: Jan. 27 at 4:30 p.m.
    Presenters: Melanie Jackson and Michele DeVane
    Reviewed by: Niccole Taylor (Science Teacher at Tate High School in Cantonment, Fla.)

    Summary: Learn how a community college trained its faculty to design online courses.

    Link: http://www.eschoolnews.org/cic/fetc/blog/2005/01/000521.php

  • Session: Copyright: Your Questions Answered
    Time: Jan. 27 at 8:30 a.m.
    Presenter: Gary Becker
    Reviewed by: Carol Veierstahler (Media Specialist at Nativity Catholic School in Brandon, Fla.)

    Summary: If you’re seeking a one-stop shopping source for all of the latest copyright laws, this was the session to attend. See what attendees learned.

    Link: http://www.eschoolnews.org/cic/fetc/blog/2005/01/000472.php

    More links:

    eSN Conference Correspondents Photo Gallery

    Complete list of session reviews