Thoughts on FETC

I just got back late last night from my first FETC. I had attended T+L, NECC, Colorado’s TIE several times, but this was my first state-wide tech conference besides Colorado’s.

Two sessions that I really enjoyed were “The Lessons of Chaos” from Stevan Kalmon at The Council on 21st Century Learning. Stevan was one of my professors in my Master’s program at UCD. I had lost track of him since graduation and it was exciting to see the new directions he’d taken.

The other session that I really enjoyed was “e-Mission: An Adventure in Distance Learning” by Jackie Shia at e-Missions. This was a fascinating simulation using video conferencing software with “mission control” in West Virginia. I was on the volcano team and had to relay incoming data regarding a potential eruption to the communication team. The evacuation team had to organize getting the inhabitants on the island of Montserrat to safety. They had to deal with realistic obstacles such as limited vehicles available and few existing shelters. I was so engaged, that I had to tear myself away at the end to prepare for my own presentation.

My biggest “ah-ha,” however, came during a discussion with another participant about how he was taking notes. Most sessions I attended (and my own session) did not provide bulky handouts. There were a few fliers and pamphlets, but no one did the PowerPoint print-outs. Since we didn’t have a place to upload our handouts, this forced everyone to come up with their own solution. For my session, I put all pertinent information on a wiki and directed participants to my del.icio.us account. During my discussion with the other participant, he said that he and a friend were using Google docs to take notes, then publishing them with the tag “fetc.” For my own notetaking, I found that if I had my del.icio.us account open in one tab, Google search engine open in a second tab, and my Amazon account open in a 3rd (for capturing books that I should read), that sufficed for gathering any information I needed.

How great it would be if we taught this sort of thing to our kids! Educause is on the right track, I think, with their recent publication “7 Things You Should Know About Google Jockeying.” This is exactly what I was doing as I was listening to speakers…looking up unfamiliar acronyms, getting more information in quick snippets. And not one person questioned whether or not I was paying attention ; )

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