It’s been more than fifteen years since my last trip down the aisles of the exhibit hall at the Florida Education Technology Conference (FETC). In the ’90s, you could find me not only in the exhibit hall, but in the sessions from sunrise to sunset on all three days of the conference learning about the newest technology and how to use it with my students.
Budget cuts not only eliminated conference registration fees, but reduced funds for technology purchases made the annual trip to the Orlando Convention Center impractical. However, last week an email announced free registration for the exhibit hall portion of the conference with access to over 400 vendors including learning lab sessions for the duration of the conference.
The exhibit hall opened at 5:00 on Wednesday, (date night) so John and I both registered for our free exhibit hall passes and planned for an unusual date.
Leaving at 3:30, we arrived as the exhibits opened and cruised the aisles looking at the new “must have” products. We dodged all vendors hawking testing, test prep, or test analysis products, eliminating close to half of all displays.
Our first stop: Virco – school furniture. Not only cool chairs for students including ones that rock, but the perfect chair for my treadmill desk, just the right height for use with the desk when I take a break from walking.
On to Renaissance Learning and a 15 minute presentation on their updated products for both reading and math. Yes, I sat through the presentation just to get a T-shirt.
Then another T-shirt (with only a 2 minute demo) from Typing Club. I’ll be sharing this website with my students. They desperately need keyboarding practice.
Of course, we couldn’t pass up the cool robots, erector sets, or the 3D printer making a model of the Statue of Liberty.
The best surprise – Historia, a web based computer game designed to teach World History. Again, my students win since they can access the game FREE this year while it’s still in the testing phase, and then they can provide feedback that will be considered for the final product which rolls out in the fall.
We came home with two bags full of pens, magnets, stickers, car chargers, T-shirts, and some ideas to use with students…a unique but fun date night.