This year FETC hosts over 400 exhibitors and 650 presenters covering numerous topics, strategies, products, tools, and professional development opportunities. Needless to say, you are going to be overwhelmed with information and may have a hard time keeping track of all the great digital tools you come across. Plus, it can be hard to know what questions to ask when talking to different companies about their products. I am here to help you out!
Before you arrive at FETC come up with a focus. What topic are you most interested in learning about? Why do you want to use technology in the classroom? Is there a specific purpose, curriculum or learning goal you want to help your students achieve? Obviously, you are going to want to check out everything you can but having a focus or a purpose will help you spend your time more wisely.
To help you navigate the exhibit floor, I have prepared a google form with a series of questions to ask the vendors. Once you have filled out as much of the form as you can, submitting the form will send a copy of your answers to the email you provided. That way, by the time you get home, you will not only have a list of the products you discovered but also some pivotal information that will help you in deciding whether the tool will be beneficial for you and your students.
This is how your time in the exhibit hall may look without having a focus or using the google form…
- You have checked out about 100 vendors
- You have a bag full of random business cards, posters, brochures, etc.
- You get home and throw out most of the business cards, brochures, etc because you can’t remember what the products are and you don’t have time to look them all up
- You remember maybe 2 – 3 products and decide to try one out
This is how your time in the exhibit hall could look…
- You wander the floor looking for a tool that catches your eye
- You listen to their sales pitch and decide whether the tool seems to align with your purpose or focus
- You open the google form and ask them the questions in the form
- You get home with a bag full of business cards, poster, brochures, etc
- You check your email and have a list of 10+ products that you thought might be beneficial with information on what the product is, the features it has, and how it aligns to your goals
Click here to go to the google form! You may want to save a hardcopy; internet access can be touch and go in the exhibit hall. If you want more information on evaluating and integrating digital tools check out my book How to Integrate and Evaluate Educational Technology.