Way back in January, I attended and presented at the Florida Educational Technology Conference in Orlando. Since it’s only an hour away, I’ve been attending this conference every year since I started as a media specialist five years ago. Most years I just went to the vendor hall, until last year when I started attending sessions. This year was my first time attending the entire conference, and also my first time presenting, and it was amazing. Rather than give you a play-by-play of which sessions I went to and what I learned in each session, I want to take a broader look at my experience at FETC as a whole.
Meeting awesome people
From left to right, top row to bottom:
Drew Minock and Brad Waid, Nancye Blair Black, Steven Anderson, Shannon Miller, FETC Tweet-up with Jerry Blumengarten and Susan Bearden, Eric Sheninger, Erin Mulcahy of littleBits, Sylvia Martinez, Abbe Waldron
Other people I got to meet/hang out with but didn’t get pictures with: Samantha Morra, Tom Murray, Jennifer Scheffer, Kristy Cleppe, Bob Dillon, Tim Clark, Jen Womble plus my local friends Josh Newhouse, Sundi Pierce, Glenda Pierce, Wendy Lopez and probably other people whose names I missed
To me, the best things about conferences isn’t all the amazing sessions, the cool gadgets in the vendor hall, or the endless swag. The best thing at a conference is getting to meet and be around inspirational fellow educators. Conferences really were the beginning of my connected educator journey. I love the opportunity to meet up with friends and people who have inspired me. While reading blogs, participating in Twitter chats, and watching webinars are all great, there’s nothing quite like talking to someone face-to-face.
Of course, there were also a lot of awesome sessions; check out videos of some of the featured ones.
Edu-furniture & other vendor hall stuff
I’m a self-proclaimed edu-furniture nerd, so the most exciting part of the vendor hall for me is not the gadgets and gizmos; it’s the amazing, innovative furniture. With booths from the likes of Bretford, Interior Concepts and KI, there was a lot of awesome stuff to look at. I think I need a bigger library, because I want to get all of it. Or maybe someone will give me a budget to completely makeover an entire school. It never hurts to dream ;)
I did, in fact, check out some gadgets in the vendor hall too. I’ve decided that I seriously need one of these locker style charging stations for my library – how cool would that be for my students? I also got my first chance to play with a 3Doodler – those things are harder to control than they look. I met up with my friends at littleBits in the Makers Hub and was happy to see so many people tinkering and playing (littleBits wrote up an awesome FETC Recap too). I got to try out zSpace, which is a pretty awesome virtual reality education system. And I got to play a little with Osmo, which is pretty ridiculously fun.
Presenting and sharing with the world
Probably the biggest conference game-changer for me has been branching out into presenting. There is such a thrill in getting to share my experiences with others. I always get nervous, but it’s immensely satisfying to hear from people who attend my sessions about how they’re going to start a Makerspace when they get back, or how they’ve built a LEGO wall in their library. Conferences should be about give and take – I always used to just attend to get information and inspiration from others. It really makes a difference to also give back and help others. It’s amazingly fulfilling.
Do you attend educational conferences? What’s your favorite part?
My other FETC 2015 posts:
- FETC Executive Summit 2015 – summary of my Executive Summit experience
- FETC Link Round-up – resources I learned about in sessions
- FETC 2015 Part 1 – my attempt at blogging during a conference when my brain is too full
- My FETC 2015 Recommendations – sessions I went to or tried to go to
- My FETC 2015 Presentations – links, slides and resources from my presentations