FETC 2014

Last week was FETC 2014 in Orlando, Florida. It was the second FETC for me. There are a few reasons I like FETC, other than the opportunity to escape the deep freeze of January in Ontario. It has a great mix of activities, workshops, receptions, and a great exhibit hall. All of that is rolled into an event that is far less overwhelming than ISTE.

While the exhibit hall can often be an area where you want to dodge aggressive company representatives, it's also a great place to get your hands on devices that you otherwise just see online.

I first saw Swivl at ECOO in the fall. There is a new Swivl coming out, and the new model was on display on the FETC exhibit floor. The Swivl has a rotating base and a microphone with an integrated tracker. The base will hold a tablet for you to record the video. The microphone connects to the tablet via bluetooth, and the base rotates to track the movement of the microphone. This is a great device for creating instructional videos. In our Teacher Education program, our students record micro-teaching lessons to review and learn how to improve their practice.

While I believe there are better choices in educational technology than interactive whiteboards, I was impressed with the simplicity and price of the IPEVO Interactive Whiteboard System. If you've always wanted an interactive board, and you already have a whiteboard and LCD projector, the IPEVO is $150.

The robotic devices zipping around the VGo booth made quite a few people turn their heads. I think it would be great for a district to acquire these robots to share among schools. These devices allow kids stuck at home (sick, broken leg, etc) to continue to participate in school. This goes beyond classroom participation. Kids can even hang out with their friends during breaks.

Although I saw much more at FETC, the last item I'll talk about is JAMF Casper Focus. This is a fantastic way to hand over some of the controls of Mobile Device Management (MDM) to the classroom teacher without having to grant complete administrative access. The teacher, using an iPad app, can lock iPads to an app, direct an iPad to connect to a specific AirPlay receiver (student must confirm), distribute content, and even remove a PIN from a locked iPad. It was great testing this out at the JAMF booth with a few iPads.

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