The 2023 Future of Education Technology Conference took place in New Orleans Jan. 23-26.

Feb 06 2023
Digital Workspace

FETC 2023: Key Takeaways from a Whirlwind Conference in New Orleans

A tornado warning didn’t deter K–12 educators, administrators and IT leaders from seeking innovative technology solutions at this year’s event.

With more than 1 million square feet of space, hosting the 2023 Future of Education Technology Conference in the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center could have been chaos.

Instead, signs guided attendees at every turn, and a collection of maps in the conference’s app ensured session destinations were reached. The easy-to-navigate conference allowed attendees to explore innovations and new ideas without getting lost or overwhelmed.  

One conferencegoer was amazed at FETC Conference Chair Jennifer Womble’s organizational skills for such a large event: “She’s running this entire event, but when she’s speaking, she seems completely calm.”

Perhaps the only thing Womble couldn’t have prepared for was a Tuesday night tornado warning in Orleans Parish. The warning, which went into effect at 11 p.m. and lasted less than an hour, became a hot topic of conversation for the remainder of the conference.

“I’m very, very excited, especially because we survived that tornado,” Anne-Marie Imafidon, CEO of Stemettes, said Wednesday in her keynote presentation. “I’m not from this part of the world, so I’ve never gotten a tornado alert on my phone.”

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If anything, the storm made chatting about the weather that much more interesting at FETC, where conferencegoers primarily discussed smarter ways to reach students and the importance of ensuring education benefits everyone.

Attendees Focus on Finding Smarter Ways to Teach in K–12

Sessions that focused on ways to use technologies to improve the teaching and learning experience were among the most popular. With new tech in hand, administrators and IT experts shared tips on using student data, personalizing learning and engaging students with esports. Here’s what they said about:

  • Student data: Educators can use student data to accelerate learning and help students catch up after a chaotic few years of remote and in-person education. If schools can achieve data interoperability, the information at their fingertips becomes even more valuable and actionable.
  • Personalizing learning: Blended learning models and technologies give students ownership of their education while teaching them vital soft skills such as self-management. Schools should design classrooms that are conducive to this type of learning to properly prepare students for future careers.
  • Esports: Competitive gaming can engage students from a young age and help them become more invested in their academics. Building and equipping esports arenas is a priority for many educators trying to connect with students.

While most technology implementations are in support of — and require the cooperation of — many K–12 staff members, the focus in conference sessions and conversations was primarily on students. Educators, administrators and IT leaders attended the conference seeking ways to improve learning for the next generation.

DIVE DEEPER: Follow these 4 K–12 IT technologies trending in 2023.

FETC Conferencegoers Sought Advice on Inclusion and Wellness

Not only were conferencegoers and speakers interested in improving learning, they also focused on the general well-being of the population.

Attendees prioritized sessions where speakers offered tips to avoid teacher burnout and support retention. The roundtable for a session presented by CDW Amplified™ for Education Collaborative Manager Laura Boone, titled “Self-Care Strategies for Staffing Success, Retention and Productivity,” was so packed that listeners pulled chairs over from other tables to participate.

Sessions on equity were also popular. Imafidon spoke on the topic in her keynote, emphasizing the importance of including everyone when creating, teaching about or testing technology.

To learn more about the 2023 FETC event, visit our conference page, and follow us on Twitter at @EdTech_K12 to see behind-the-scenes moments.

Photography by Rebecca Torchia

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