Not the driving rain or 50-degree temperatures could keep edtech enthusiasts from the opening day of FETC 2019 in Orlando. Wearing winter coats and braving the harsh Florida weather, lines formed early for the 8 am workshops.

Because this is my 13th FETC, I confidently walked into the conference center as a tour guide for an FETC first timer. However, in its usual manner, FETC changed it up for the better. Though I do miss seeing Hawaiian shirts and skateboards at the Surf conference that shared the south side of the Orange County Convention Center, the extra space taken over by FETC makes the conference workshops more accessible, convenient, and right in the heart of the main concourse. The new and improved conference registration location is an upgrade from its previous place in the corner of the Expo floor.

The Expo floor did not open until 4:30 pm on Monday, but educators and administrators were able to choose from 100 workshops, Apple and Microsoft concurrent sessions, and an all-day Blueprint for Technology in Education Summit. The FETC Experience, in its second-year, models personalized learning with tracks that identify attendee relevant workshops and sessions. The edtech administrators, information technology, educator, early learning, and inclusion and special education tracks ensured that there was something for everyone.

Student Data Privacy

Edtech administrators and Edtech information technology administrators have many sleepless nights contemplating student data privacy and cybersecurity challenges in their districts. These challenges were addressed in the Future of Edtech Administrator and the Future of Edtech Information Technology workshops. During these sessions, presenters and attendees discussed concerns, best practices, and implementation strategies on data privacy, digital citizenship and understanding the new generation of learners. The all-day Blueprint for Technology in Education Summit sessions focused on the future of edtech and how it is no more extended curriculum or IT–it is both!

STEAM and STEM

Not surprising is the continued focus on STEAM, STEM, coding, and robotics. Not only was there a plethora of workshops on these topics, but there was also a wide range of grade-specific targeted options in both the Future of Edtech Educator and the Future of Edtech Early Learning tracks.

Assistive Technology

A student does not need to be on an IEP or 504 to benefit from assistive technology. This message was loud and clear in the Future of Edtech Inclusion and Special Education workshop sessions that focused on inclusion and high expectations for all learners. These workshops highlighted the unlimited assistive technology apps and software programs by providing insight and best practices that will ensure rigor while supporting all learners struggling with reading and writing.

Day one has my head spinning already with networking opportunities, amazing workshops, and energizing vibes. So regardless of whether the sun comes out or the rain continues, there is no better place than FETC19 to get your edtech jam on!

About the Author:

Eileen Belastock is director of technology for Mount Greylock Regional School District in Williamstown, Mass., and a board member of MassCUE, an ISTE Affiliate.


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