Jan 21 2015

FETC 2015 Kicks Off With a BYOD Bang

A game-based learning event, executive summit and hands-on sessions are highlights of the opening day of the conference.

Thousands of K–12 educators trekked down to Orlando for the FETC 2015, a three-day whirlwind of sessions, workshops and speeches for educators, administrators and technologists that began on Tuesday.

Now in its 35th year, FETC advises educators on the latest techniques for integrating current and emerging technology with curricula.

“We are thrilled to have over 8,500 educators annually make FETC the cornerstone of their professional development plan,” Patrick Gallagher, event director of education events at 1105 Media, said in a news release.

Attendees can drill down deep into several topics and technologies through more than 400 topic sessions and 150 hands-on workshops led by educators and national experts. Many of these sessions allow attendees to participate by to usinge their own devices to participate.

Four keynote speeches scheduled throughout FETC help set the tone for the conference. The opening keynote on Wednesday, “Learning Is an Epic Win,” will be led by Jane McGonigal, director of game research and development at the Institute for the Future. Other keynotes include “Twelve Years From Now” presented by Jenny Lawton, CEO of MakerBot, and “Youth as Learners, Makers and Problem-Solvers” by David Sengeh, biomechatronics engineer at MIT. The closing keynote, “What Is the Future of Education Technology,” will be given by Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia; Lucien Vattel, CEO of GameDesk, and Adam Bellow, founder and president of eduTecher and eduClipper.

New this year was a game-based learning event, which encouraged attendees to bring their own devices — laptops, tablets and smartphones of all varieties. Educators tried out new games and got hands-on experience with the latest game-development tools designed to enhance learning in the classroom.

This year’s conference also introduces a Makers’ Hub, where attendees can tinker with 3D printers and robotics, and the FETC 2015 STEM Excellence Awards, which recognize distinction and innovation in K–12 science, technology, engineering and math education.

Tuesday kicked off the conference's executive summit, a special invite-only gathering of education leaders to meet and share new ideas. In the summit’s opening talk, educators from Burlington Public Schools in Massachusetts shared their story of a successful one-to-one device rollout in elementary, middle and high schools.

Though this portion of the conference was reserved for those with invitations, social media was buzzing with activity from the opening talk.

Follow EdTech: Focus on K–12 on Twitter to learn more about this year’s FETC. We’ll be tweeting conference coverage throughout the week.

Tian YANG/Thinkstock

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