From January 25 to 28, ESL Library attended the 2022 Future of Education Technology® Conference (FETC) as an exhibitor! FETC takes place in Orlando, Florida, and explores how technology is shaping the future of education. We chatted with Ken Volcjak, our Director of Strategic Partnerships, and asked him a few questions about his time at FETC. Here’s what he had to say.
MELISSA: What's your history with FETC? Have you been to an FETC conference before?
KEN: Actually, this was the first time I’ve attended FETC in person. I’ve known about the conference for years and the excellent reputation it carries as a crossroads for (predominantly) US and Canada-focused EdTech knowledge sharing and dealmaking. In years past, I’ve unfortunately had timing conflicts with other conferences or other obligations, so I’m incredibly happy to have been able to finally attend this year!
MELISSA: Why was it important for the ESL Library team to attend the FETC conference?
KEN: Visibility as an exhibitor at FETC immediately elevates your status in the EdTech industry. It speaks to the dedication and passion your company places on innovative, balanced, and proper application of technology solutions to the betterment of teaching and learning outcomes. So, our booth presence alone, expertly managed by our amazing team, placed us in a very positive, visible light.
MELISSA: Can you set the FETC stage for us? How was the conference set up?
KEN: The stage at FETC was arranged in similar fashion to many conferences:
- Hundreds of (typically) one-hour sessions offered up a multitude of EdTech-related topics spread out over the course of four days.
- A large Expo Hall was open for three days where hundreds of companies displayed their various EdTech solutions to an audience of teachers and administrators. Of particular note, the ESL Library booth looked incredible—very bright, fun, and super inviting. Equally important, it was well placed. Our team secured a primo spot near the hall entrance with close proximity to the main sponsor, Promethean, so that helped immensely in steering traffic to ESL Library.
MELISSA: What sessions did you attend? What were some of the key takeaways from those sessions?
KEN: I managed to attend several sessions in between meetings and researching companies in the Expo Hall. Here’s a sampling:
- “Immersive Reader is Everywhere”
- Key Takeaway: Immersive Reader is an amazing tool for ELLs. It checks several boxes for accessibility and is easy to integrate.
- “Interoperability: EdTech Stuff Should Just Work Together”
- Key Takeaway: There are still multiple education data standards floating out there for US K–12. We need to keep our finger constantly on the pulse of this topic to determine which/when to implement.
- “A District LOR Solution to Support Flexible Digital Lesson Design”
- “Leadership + Innovation + ELLs = Vocabulary Achievement”
- Key Takeaway: As we create tools and activities focused specifically on vocabulary acquisition, it’s helpful to consider a semantic reasoning approach as evidenced in products such as InferCabulary, whereby students acquire an understanding of words in multiple contexts, mimicking to some extent how young children first acquire vocabulary understanding in their native language.
MELISSA: What session was your favorite and why?
KEN: There were a lot of great sessions, but I think my favorite was coined “No Questions Should Go Unanswered.” This session was hosted by Paper, a fast-growing startup, that provides 24/7 academic support to help students with what they need, when they need it. Especially recognizing the degree of unfinished learning caused by the pandemic, this represents a solution for many school districts struggling to catch up and level the playing field for their student body, including large ELL populations.
MELISSA: What was the best part about the FETC conference?
KEN: There were so many super positive aspects of the conference, but I have to say that the best part of the conference was to finally meet in person and work alongside some of my amazing ESL Library colleagues! Video conferencing technology has come a long way, but there’s still a dimension that can’t be replaced by in-person exchanges. I hope there will be more opportunities in the future for such interactions within the company!
MELISSA: Is there anything else you’d like to share about FETC?
KEN: There is one other item that should be illuminated. ESL Library’s attendance at FETC this year was an incredibly smooth, professional, and highly successful endeavor for the company. Rightfully, huge kudos need to be extended to everyone who was on the ground in Orlando, the team orchestrating all of the logistics behind the scenes, everyone involved with the continual betterment of our incredible content and platform, and those providing second to none service to our customers. I know I left the conference with a great sense of pride for what we’ve accomplished, but also immense optimism for the plethora of opportunities that lie ahead—and that’s attributable to EVERYONE on the awesome ESL Library team. Thanks, all!
In this lesson, students discuss the effects of technology and what school might look like in the future. In addition to discussion questions, this lesson also includes a vocabulary review and a group task.
Did you attend this year’s FETC conference? If you went, share your FETC reflections in the comments below!