ORLANDO, Fla. — Educators and technology professionals from around the world last week gathered at the 36th annual Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center to get a look at the future of classroom technology.
As one of the largest educational technology conferences, FETC provides Pre-K-12 educators and administrators an opportunity to explore the integration of technology across the curriculum through hands-on exposure to the latest software and successful implementation strategies, according to a statement by event organizers.
Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code Reshma Saujani kicked off the conference as the opening keynote speaker. In her speech, Saujani discussed bridging the gender gap in technological learning and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education. FETC also hosted a screening of CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap, a documentary which highlights the shortage of American female and minority software engineers and explores the reasons for this gap.
Meanwhile, keynote speaker, engineer and astronaut Leland Melvin presented on the importance of pursuing STEM careers and National Teacher of the Year Sean McComb offered the keynote address, iWill: Activating Empowered Teachers and Students, in which he shared his positive experiences in transforming his own classroom as well as the conditions necessary for students and teachers to thrive.
The event also recognized innovation in the field of STEM education at the primary, middle and high school levels at the second annual STEM Excellence Awards. STEM Excellence Award-winning schools were evaluated on the use of interdisciplinary curriculum, collaboration, design, problem solving and STEM experiences offered. Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr. Elementary School of St. Petersburg, Fla., was the winner in the elementary school division, while The STEM Academy of Savannah, Ga., took top honors in the middle school division. Nikola Tesla STEM High School in Redmond, Wash., claimed the honor in the high school division.
“Beyond STEM, FETC prides itself in highlighting a variety of education technology topics in its more than 500 sessions — from podcasting in the classroom to assistive technology to game-based learning,” said Mike Eason, FETC general manager, in a statement. These sessions focused on topics ranging from communication and collaboration to emerging technologies and maker tools to technology infrastructure. They included everything from 3D printing to robotics instruction to tips for peer-to-peer online professional development.
The conference expo also included more than 400 exhibitors such as Florida Shines, Insight Systems Exchange, National Science Foundation, Scantron, Microsoft, Lenovo, Aver and Epson.