Wondering What Trends Stood Out at this Popular Annual #EdTech Conference?
One of the best EdTech conferences of the year is the Florida Education Technology Conference (FETC). This year was no different as thousands of educators from all disciplines and instructional levels descended upon the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.
There were several themes that were evident based on the topics, content, software, and hardware on show for the attendees. With an eye on staying on the edge of EdTech, understanding these themes can help educators plan effectively for the future of the role of technology in education.
Here are a few of the central themes from the floor of FETC2015:
Personalization of Education
It is impressive the number of choices in classroom-ready electronic content for all subject areas. Teachers can use this content to support any of the technology initiatives they find themselves in: 1:1, class sets, or mobile carts.
Trending here is the collection of big data on individual learners. Applications are migrating towards “smart” programs that allow the program to control sequencing of learning based on past student performance. Future education technology learning systems will understand it's users better than ever before. Differentiation becomes the norm in packaged educational content.
This data will create challenges of data management and analysis, skills that many educators many not be well versed in through current teaching training and professional experience. Professional development may need to catch up a bit here in the coming years.
Learning Control Shift: More Self-Direction Learning
It was very apparent at FETC2015 that with increased connectivity of our society, learners must acquire and practice skills of self-directed learning and manage with less hands-on attention from teachers.
Two things will be happening here: First, educators must plan learning experiences that have openings for more independent exploration and creativity through technology tools. Secondly, students must develop skills of self-motivation, self-direction, and problem solving like never before. Is this shift good or bad? Maybe this is not the question, but rather how does the increased access to learning options influence the way students can and will learn. I think the trend here is exciting and could lead to a new wave of student engagement with content in a real and authentic way. Students will have more choices of how to convey their mastery of content to instructors.
Exciting possibilities are now within reach of students to produce impressive evidence of their learning – many of these include evidence like photos, video, and audio to demonstrate proficiency.
Device Agnostic Mobile Applications
While Windows and iOS still battle their products against one another on the vendor floor, there is an undercurrent driven by application developers to make their products work on any mobile device. School choice in device will hold fewer limitations to what teachers can use with the students. Content platforms now recognize what devices students are using and optimize their experience for that device. Most of the apps now are developed to work on the major operating systems found on the mobile platforms available.
The challenge still remains with determining quality in apps for classroom use, but the days of the device ruling what can or cannot happen are waning.
FETC2015 provided new and innovative tools and strategies to thousands of educators to use in their classrooms. These trends help shape the way our students learn and open new possibilities for greater achievement. I am encouraged by the focus on individual learning needs with fewer ties to specific types of devices. Congratulations to the conference staff for putting together another exceptional experience!