FETC 2013 | Viewpoint

Welcome to FETC 2013

Educator and ed tech enthusiast Jenna Linskens went from onetime FETC attendee to featured speaker. She shares how the conference has helped shape her career.

It's time for the 33rd Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando, Florida, and the energy is beginning to pump through my veins. Can you feel the electricity in the air? Can you feel the excitement? Last spring, I wrote an article for T.H.E. Journal's website in which I said, "If you haven't been to FETC or if it has been a while since you last attended, I encourage you to add FETC 2013 to your list of professional development activities."

I'm glad you took my advice, because this year's conference schedule is guaranteed not to disappoint.

There are so many things I am looking forward to this year. Conversations with other technology-using educators and experts through Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have kept me busy as I prepared for FETC 2013. The #FETC Twitter stream is full of messages about registration, sessions, workshops, keynotes, and meet-ups. Facebook and LinkedIn have websites, articles, photos, and videos posted from past conferences.

You've probably gotten several e-mails from all of the companies and organizations that are available for you to meet with. Don't forget the drawings: technology giveaways are always a highlight in the exhibit hall. So start looking at all of the workshops, concurrent and featured sessions, and the amazing list of keynote speakers. 

Last year's conference proved to be an amazing time for me. I had the opportunity to build on prior connections and engage in great conversations. I learned more about how to use technology effectively to engage and motivate students, and to enhance learning. There were friendly faces everywhere. Some I knew from social media, but many more were new faces. Attending FETC is an open opportunity to engage in great conversations with educators from around the world, all of whom are focused on one idea: becoming better at integrating technology into education.

Jenna Linskens is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education: Educational Technology Department at Marian University. She is a member of the International Society of Technology Education (ISTE) and Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society (KDP).

At FETC 2013, she will present the session Your Online Class is Ready to Start: Did You Do it Right? and three workshops: Supporting Struggling Readers with iPad Applications; Math Intervention with iPad Applications; and iPads for Administrators.

For me, the greatest joy comes from talking with so many others at the Tweet-ups, between sessions in the halls, in the exhibit hall, at a bench outside the convention center eating lunch, or at the annual coffee cup giveaway. At FETC 2012, I connected with educators from Kansas, Florida, Illinois, California, and Puerto Rico.  These connections turned into personal invitations to provide additional training and support to schools around the country.

One connection I made at FETC took me to the University of San Juan-Medical Sciences Campus in Puerto Rico on two separate occasions. The first was an invitation to present at the Annual Title V Symposium alongside three other experts in the field of education. I shared my knowledge of SMARTBoard technology and inspired the faculty to integrate a variety of web 2.0 tools into their curriculum to engage traditional and graduate students in the learning environment. My second trip to UPR was to give a weeklong intensive training on the use of iPads for professional efficiency and lesson delivery. UPR faculty members are excited, and the Title V project is going to be a great success.

I also spent the past year providing staff development sessions, presenting at state conferences, teaching graduate classes through Marian University, Fond du Lac, WI, and continuing to work towards my educational doctorate in technology and e-learning through Northcentral University, Arizona. By this time next year, I hope to have completed my dissertation, which focuses on the impact of iPads in the classroom.  All of these opportunities are a direct result of attending my first FETC in 2010. The connections, the knowledge gained, and the experiences have helped me to reach my dream. 

In my article last spring, I shared the reasons why I transitioned from teaching in the elementary classroom to teaching online and working for Marian University. I left the elementary classroom because I wasn't making enough of a difference in the lives of my students. I wanted to inspire others and do more to help them reach their own goals. When I present to educators on educational technology, I am impacting every one of the students who you teach. I am still teaching. I get to teach all of you. I am able to share my knowledge and enthusiasm of educational technology with thousands of educators who I hope will go back to their school districts to share their new knowledge and enthusiasm.

Eight of us from Marian University have made the trip to FETC, leaving the cold winter of Wisconsin behind to bask in the warm Florida sun for one week. On Monday, January 28th, Assistant Professors Kristi Shaw and Malia Hoffmann will be presenting a workshop that focuses on using iTunesU and iBooks to design course materials for the online learning environment. 

I will be presenting several sessions throughout the week.. You will be able to find me on Monday, January 28, and Tuesday, January 29, providing three workshops related to iPad integration. The workshops on Monday will cover using the iPad to help struggling readers, and using the iPad for math intervention. On Tuesday, I will provide a workshop to help administrators learn to use their iPad effectively.

On Thursday, January 31, you will be able to find me presenting a featured session, "Your Online Class is Ready to Start: Did You do it Right?" This session will provide attendees with a list of web 2.0 tools to design effective icebreakers that can help get an online class started. Attendees will learn how to build a successful online classroom environment that supports diverse learners and promotes collaborative learning.

If you are planning on integrating online/hybrid learning into your school, I encourage you to join me. And you will want to make sure you stick around on Thursday, January 31, for the big Closing Session: App Shoot-Out. I will be back up on the stage with Hall Davidson and Gail Lovely to share our top educational applications. It will be a fast-paced, exciting informational session with mobile device application ideas that you will be downloading before you leave the Convention Center.

I'm looking forward to reconnecting with my old friends as well as making new ones, and sharing some of my knowledge and passion for educational technology with educators from around the globe. Bring along your own mobile device and an open mind, and be ready to connect with educators from around the world. I'll be one of them. Just look for me in my blue Marian University shirt.

About the Author

Jenna Linskens is a full-time instructor for the Educational Technology Department in the School of Education at Marian University. Primary classes she teaches include: Integrating iPads in the Classroom, Action Research, Online Learning, Using iPods in the Classroom, and E-Portfolio. Linskens is currently earning her Ed.D. from Northcentral University with a focus on Technology and E-Learning. She has also presented for staff development on topics including: Effective use of iPads, iPods, Podcasting, Web 2.0 Tools (incl. Social Media, Wikis, and Blogs), and SMARTboards.