Technology + Online + Industry + Partnerships

FETC 2009 Goes Green

The annual ed tech conference will be led off by Philippe Cousteau, a leading conservationist worthy of his notable pedigree.

FROM JAN. 21-24, THE ORANGE County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, will welcome school IT staff, teachers, administrators, ed tech leaders, and more for the 2009 Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC; The annual event, one of the largest of its kind, exposes educators to the latest products and techniques for integrating technology across curricula, from kindergarten to college.

Officially kicking off FETC this year will be an opening session sponsored by Discovery Education and featuring keynote speaker Philippe Cousteau, the grandson of legendary explorer, oceanographer, filmmaker, ecologist, photographer, author, and researcher Jacques Cousteau.

In BriefPhilippe Cousteau was recently named chief ocean correspondent for cable television channel Animal Planet, where he is creating a series of ocean documentary programs. He is also president of EarthEcho International, a nonprofit environmental education and conservation organization that aims to empower people with stories, experiences, and resources that will lead them to take action to protect the oceans and improve the world. At FETC, Cousteau will join local, state, and national dignitaries who will share with participants their knowledge, experience, and vision for technology in education.

The premiere session will be followed by the opening of the exhibit hall, where more than 500 vendors will display the latest in education technology resources. On the floor of the hall, conference attendees can experience 21st-century classroom tools firsthand, and learn about technologies that are just starting to hit the market.

In Brief

The FETC exhibit hall offers the
newest products.

FETC 2009 will feature more than 200 concurrent sessions that will focus on topics such as emerging technologies, security, social networking, collaboration, and green computing. Conference attendees may also choose from more than 70 ticketed professional development workshops to gain deeper knowledge of specific ed tech issues. New to this year's conference is the Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System's Hands-On Technology Lab, where attendees can stop in during conference hours to explore the latest in assistive and instructional technology.

Registration is available via the FETC website, fax, or mail. For questions about registration, call 877-303-0718 or e-mail.


THE PARTNERSHIP FOR 21st Century Skills has launched the P21 Professional Development Affiliate program in an effort to establish a network of affiliates to help build and implement K-12 professional development programs that foster 21st-century skills.

Any national, state, and regional organizations that provide professional development to educators may participate in the program and become part of the national community of affiliates. The inaugural participants included nearly 30 people from 11 organizations and companies such as the National Education Association, Pearson, and Metiri Group.

Upon completion of the program, affiliates will be armed with resources to align professional development programs with the Partnership's Framework for 21st-Century Learning, which identifies the skills students must master to be successful in work and life. Part of the framework includes information, media, and technology skills. Affiliates must commit to infusing these skills into K-12 instructional practices and sharing that work with colleagues.

P21 plans to offer the program three more times during the upcoming calendar year, with a goal of training 100 new affiliates. Visit the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website for more information.

SETDA Urging Action to Improve Education

As part of a project it is calling Class of 2020: Action Plan for Education, a culmination of white papers and policy recommendations, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) has laid out 10 steps the incoming Obama administration should take to improve US education and support K-12 students.

In BriefSome of the steps directly address technology integration, such as "ensure that technology tools and resources are used continuously and seamlessly for instruction, collaboration, and assessment," and "increase available funding for E-Rate so that school districts and schools can acquire telecommunication services, internet access, internal connections, and maintenance of those connections." Others are not technology-related, but are crucial to the success of K-12 schools, such as "make ongoing, sustainable professional development available to all teachers," and "incorporate innovative, consistent, and timely assessments into daily instruction."

The Class of 2020 action plan includes a five-point Student Bill of Rights, an attempt to keep efforts trained on what students need from a 21st-century education system. For example, Point 4: "Each student deserves an individualized learning experience addressing his/her abilities, strengths, and weaknesses."

Prior white papers released by SETDA during the last six months have focused on broadband access; science, technology, engineering, and math instruction; assessments; virtual learning; and professional development. Each of these papers contains specific recommendations, as well as research-based examples of best practices. To view the white papers, the Class of 2020 project, and more, visit the SETDA website.

:: Awards and Contests

CONTEST CALLS ON STUDENTS TO REACH OBAMA. School e-mail and networking provider ePals has launched the Your Presidential Minute contest on Election Central, the company's web resource focused on the recent presidential election. Interested K-12 students must submit a one-minute audio recording, a 200-word written submission, or a 10- slide Microsoft PowerPoint presentation expressing to President-elect Barack Obama their views on issues important to them. Students are encouraged to think globally and be creative. Judges at ePals will compile the best submissions online and share them with the new president, his transition team, and members of the ePals Global Community. Entries must be submitted by Jan. 10 and winners will be posted on Jan. 20. For more information, visit here.

CERTIPORT TO NAME MICROSOFT OFFICE WORLD CHAMPIONS. For the seventh year, skills certification company Certiport is holding its Worldwide Competition on Microsoft Office to honor students with superior Word and Excel skills. To enter the contest, students age 13 and older from around the world must take an eligible Microsoft Office certification exam at their local Certiport testing center. Country and region finalists will be chosen based on their test scores to compete for the right to be called Word or Excel world champion, as well as prizes worth $6,500 at Certiport's Pathways Conference in Toronto next summer. For more details, visit here.

:: Industry News

ATOMIC LEARNING OFFERS TECH SKILLS ASSESSMENT. Now teachers can gauge students' technology skills through the Atomic Learning Tech Skills Assessment, available through a subscription to the company's Technology Skills Collection of online learning resources. Correlated to the International Society for Technology in Education's 2007 National Educational Technology Standards for Students, the online tool helps educators quickly identify specific technology competency gaps. In addition, it provides curriculum projects to target those gaps and a robust tracking tool with a wide range of reporting features.

FLOCABULARY LAUNCHES THE WEEK IN RAP. Flocabulary, a new provider of music-based educational resources, recently debuted another tool meant to engage students in learning and foster academic success. The Week in Rap is a website that contains twominute teen-friendly music videos summarizing the major news stories of the week. Two new videos are posted to the site every Friday, and anyone can view them for free. Posts also include lyrics to the songs with key words highlighted, a space for viewer comments, and links to relevant news stories.

GLOGSTER RELEASES EDUCATION PROGRAM. Glogster, a Web 2.0 platform popular with both teachers and students that allows users to express themselves through graphics, text, photos, music, and video, has launched an education program. The company hopes to build an evolving, dynamic partnership with educators as it collaborates with them on the development of the ideal resource for schools, which includes the building of private and secure student accounts.

This article originally appeared in the 12/01/2008 issue of THE Journal.