You’ve come home with a branded tote bag of swag, a bundle of new contacts, and an after-conference high. Your FitBit probably counted more steps than it can handle as you walked from one session to the next, and you may be in need of some new walking shoes. Sounds like you just got back from FETC (Future of Education Technology Conference) just like us!
The expo floors and sessions of FETC were brimming with information and innovative ideas. Educators and edtech entrepreneurs alike were eager to find ways to incorporate the newest technologies, such as AR technology and creative ways to code, to the classroom. While we love the innovation and creativity of edtech technology, we really wanted to hear from educators. After all, without them, these products wouldn’t have a classroom to live in. Here’s what really got educators talking (and how you can bring it to your product or the next edtech conference you attend):
Educators are not buying what you’re selling.
While this was a rare occurrence at FETC, we found that educators did not enjoy sessions that felt more like a long sales pitch. Of course, as a company, you’re there to show off your product, but many educators were not buying it. For the most part, educators want transparency. They want to know the pros and cons of your product, and they especially want to know the risks involved when they bring your product into the classroom. Instead of thinking about conferences as a pitch, go forward as a partnership. Educators are looking for companies and products who will save them time and money.
For example, even though there were many old and new ideas on how to teach kids to code at FETC, educators were concerned on how they could align coding with their school districts’ standards or use coding to teach other areas of the curriculum.
It’s time to stop drowning educators with data.
A good teacher probably told us at some point in our student days to always back up our claims with evidence. Many companies have really taken that teaching to heart…but maybe a bit too much. Yes, the federal government does require that only evidence-backed tech can be purchased with federal funding, so it is important to do your due diligence with collecting valid data. However, educators are drowning in data, and they will not have the time to sift through it all. Educators don’t need another visual graph in a presentation to be convinced of the efficacy of your product. What will convince them are actionable plans and practical steps to incorporate the data to their day-to-day in the classroom. Jessie Woolley-Wilson of @Dreambox said it best at FETC:
“Educators must demand proof that edtech is positively impacting student achievement.”
Educators want practicality and ease. Some of the best sessions included advice on how to incorporate the latest technology into the classroom in a practical and inexpensive way. Other sessions such as how to effectively incorporate gaming into the classroom or inclusivity in the classroom opened the floor for a myriad of discussion among educators. (You can check out companies such as ThingLink and CoSpaces to see how to effectively incorporate AR and VR into the classroom).
Teachers talk on Twitter — join the conversation!
Teachers use Twitter as a PLN (professional learning network) and many school districts now encourage an online presence to keep up with the latest trends and communicate with other educators. The conversation continuously happens and new ideas are always bounced around. You can even join the weekly conversation, check out #EdTechChat, #satchat or #sunchat for a start. Of course, we’re big fans of #edtechequals . There’s also a new chat starting this Wednesday at 8pm EST that we’re very excited about: #edtech4good hosted by: @EmpaticoOrg @participate
Some of the biggest lines at FETC surrounded “superstar teachers” who maintain an active Twitter presence and constantly create dialogue, content, and ideas. Some of our favorites include Jennifer Williams (@JenWilliamsEdu), Russel Schwartz (@Russ_Schwartz) , Tanya Avrith (@Tanya Avrith ), Dr. Katrina Keene (@Dr. Katrina Keene) , Rafranz Davis (@Rafranz Davis), Leslie Fisher (@lesliefisher), as well as David Henderson and Jeff Madlock (@edutechguys).
Your next big (edtech) break may be a hashtag away!
Did you attend FETC? What were some of your biggest takeaways and how will you use them to improve your product?