Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Flagship Ed-Tech Conference

Chatsworth, Calif. – More than 400 of the nation’s top technology companies, dozens of global experts on educational technology, thousands of educators and a well-known actor and environmentalist will converge on Orlando, Fla., in January when FETC 2010 convenes for its 30th anniversary conference.

Teachers, administrators, technology enthusiasts, bloggers and Web 2.0 experts have begun planning and registering to attend FETC 2010, one of the nation’s oldest and largest conferences devoted entirely to educational technology. The conference, which will be held at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center January 12-15, provides K-12 educators and administrators an opportunity to explore different technologies across the board, while increasing their familiarity with the latest hardware, software and successful strategies promoting student technology use.

The conference includes dynamic speakers, exhibitors and events, as well as the highly anticipated Opening Keynote Session on Jan. 13 which features Ed Begley Jr. – actor, environmental activist and star of the Planet Green series, Living with Ed! Begley will speak on the importance of education and personal responsibility for the environment.

“FETC is a great opportunity for educators from around the country to explore the latest in educational technology through workshops, speakers and hands-on experiences,” said Michael Eason, executive director of FETC. “Not only do attendees have the opportunity to learn about best practices from national experts, but they can also see and purchase the latest innovations in classroom technology from more than 400 exhibitors.”

FETC is known for being one of the most comprehensive and progressive ed-tech conferences in the country. This year’s conference will present more than 200 concurrent sessions and 80-plus ticketed workshops focusing on hot-topic areas such as 21st century skills, accountability, community connections, digital content, future and emerging technologies, virtual learning and many more. In addition, educators will be able to find solutions for working with tight budgets, improving curriculum and effectively integrating technology into the classroom.

New to this year’s conference is a “Brown Bag and Pre-Keynote Session” which will give attendees a first glimpse of the newest tech tools before the Opening General Session. Three of the nation’s foremost education technology leaders – Hall Davidson, Leslie Fisher and John Kuglin – will share their personal favorites while attendees enjoy a brown-bagged lunch. The 90-minute session will conclude with participants casting votes for their favorite “must have” ed-tech tool.

In addition to the keynote address, the conference will again present the signature “Eye-Opener Keynote” series, which are held each morning prior to the start of the session/workshop day. These informal, early morning gatherings feature inspirational speakers and innovative topics designed to generate thought and discussion throughout the day.

“Today’s economic and budget challenges make it even more essential for educators and administrators to attend professional development events such as FETC in order to learn about best practices and tools for extending limited resources,” said Eason. “Technology offers a way to do more with much less, and attending FETC is the best investment the budget-conscious educator can make in today’s economic climate. Plus, there are many resources, including American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and Title I and II monies, available to help defray some of the costs of attending.”

The $4.35-billion Race to the Top Fund, which is part of the 2009 ARRA, is the largest competitive and federally-funded investment in school reform. The plan rewards schools for past accomplishments and creates incentives for future improvements. According to the U.S. Department of Education, one of the ways this federal stimulus money can be used is to recruit, retain, develop and reward effective teachers and principals. For more information on federal funding, go to and search “ARRA.”

For more information on FETC 2010 – including a detailed list of sessions, exhibitors, ticketed workshops and registration information – visit

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I think critically, therefore I am

Times Higher Education, August 6 2009 Dr. Linda Elder

Teaching students to read and understand a text properly is essential to their intellectual survival in a complex world. Elder has developed a four-part approach to teaching her psychology students to think critically. As you read through the series of activities, remember that any of the details can and should be contextualized to fit the situation, student group, and so forth. I also found the comments interesting.
  • Part one: reading closely
  • Part two: analyzing the text
  • Part three: sharing papers and giving feedback to one another
  • Part four: speaking in the voice of the author (role-playing)

Monday, November 16, 2009

History-based video games inspire more indepth study

Game developers are hoping history-based video games will inspire more interest in subjects as diverse as Leonardo da Vinci and World War II. Recognizing that the games help with technical, critical-thinking and literacy skills, some libraries are including the games in their collections. "My hope is that bringing the idea of these types of characters into more popular culture will arouse some people's curiosities to investigate further and learn more," a game designer said. The Washington Post/Reuters (11/12)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

PC trends in education: Thin is in

Despite new trends in computing with devices such as the iPhone and the Kindle, simple personal computers and laptops are likely to remain the center of a student's technological universe, according to this review of the latest technology. Users can expect to see fewer optical drives and increasing touch-screen capabilities. Netbooks are also growing in popularity as a lightweight alternative for students who are already loaded down with heavy backpacks. eSchool News (11/11)

NJ Students Collaborate Online Using Web 2.0 Tools

More educators in New Jersey are utilizing the tools of Web 2.0 technology, which allows students shared access to content and more collaborative learning. While some educators caution about the downside to the latest technology -- like its propensity for distracting students -- others say wiki pages, classroom blogs, video conferences and online chats help students learn how to be creative and prepare them for college and the real world. The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.) (11/7)

Friday, November 6, 2009

North Carolina district prepares for technology overhaul

Educators in the Pamlico school system in North Carolina are preparing for a digital overhaul as they plan to spend $1.25 million in technology stimulus money awarded in September through an Enhancing Education Through Technology grant and the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus money. Laptops for middle-school and high-school students as well as iPod Touch technology for primary schools are all being considered for fall 2010. Pamlico administrators will also travel to other districts to find answers to technology-related questions. Joseph Spruill, the school system’s director of technology, said officials may travel to a district that no longer uses paper textbooks, and another to see how they are using technology in their math classrooms. Sun Journal (New Bern, N.C.) (11/5)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Schools are using robotics to teach math and science

Educators in some Washington state schools are using robotics projects as a hands-on way for students to learn math and science as well as improve teamwork, innovation and problem-solving skills. Members of the business community hope the program will also spur an interest in science and technology careers. "It's so empowering to children to build something and program it to do something, and it does it. It's better than any video game," one teacher said. The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Digital course-management tool is used to engage students

Connect, a new interactive course-management tool by McGraw-Hill, is being used by college professors and their students to share materials over the Internet. At a cost of about $40 a semester -- or $80 with a digital textbook included -- students have access to video lectures, class notes and practice exams that offer more questions in the areas where an individual student's scores are poorest. The Wall Street Journal (10/28)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Students learn from new, more interactive generation of video games

A trend to include gaming in school curricula has students playing a new generation of educational video games that are more social and interactive, allowing students to collaborate and solve problems related to the real world. Video game designers have integrated science, math and language concepts into game mechanics, so they no longer seem to students like schoolwork. The New York Times