From March 12 through 14, 2014, instructors from across the United States gathered at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee to experience and participate in the 19th annual Course Technology Conference. As always, the meeting was filled with engaged and enthusiastic attendees who wanted to learn about the newest technologies in education, network with over five hundred of their colleagues, and bring plenty of tools, ideas, and inspiration back to their classrooms.
Today we want to share a brief synopsis of what happened at the meeting, along with some of our highlights. If you attended—we’d love for you to share what you learned, talked about, and enjoyed in the comments section below!

Let’s talk about EdTech 

Technology in the classroom was, naturally, a key topic of conversation in the sessions, the hallways, and on social media. Most instructors—especially those whose life work is teaching technology—recognize and appreciate the value that technology can add to their classrooms. But many who attended noticed that there appears to be a mindshift—more and more instructors are now looking for ways to turn smartphones and other tech devices into tools that engage students in activities and other investigative learning experiences that happen on the spot. What’s more, many worthwhile—and free—apps can help facilitate those experiences. (We’ll share some of those in a forthcoming post!)

Speaking of emerging technologies: Google Glass made an appearance in the meeting rooms and hallways. Author and presenter Ken Baldauf brought his pair to the meeting, and allowed many of the attendees—including fellow author and presenter Beverly Amer—to try them on and explore! What might be the possibilities of these tools in the classroom?

A conversation also formed around Microsoft’s Office 365 and how to appropriately teach and train students to stay proficient, up to date, and properly prepared for certification exams. Marie Roberts tweeted: “Cengage’s product team addressing concerns of instructors abt updates in Office 365. Great open dialogue. #authentic #CTconf14 @CourseTech”

Inspiring speakers

As always, the keynote speakers provided an extra spark of energy, enthusiasm, and exciting ideas.

Mark Milliron of Civitas Learning kicked off the meeting with a discussion on the importance of challenging students to bring more purpose, engagement, and tenacity to bear on their learning journeys. He also shared his vision for how to bring about a future where more striving students succeed.

 

Corinne Hoisington

Course Technology author Corinne Hoisington got us all to say “OH YEAH!” In her first keynote, she gave us a peek into the Internet of Things, wearable technology, new cloud technologies, and other hot trends that are currently making the tech scene of 2014—and are soon to enter your classroom. In her second keynote, she demonstrated how the latest from Microsoft (including OneDrive, Office 365 SP1, and Windows 8.1 Update 1) can be used to create a rich learning experience for students; she also talked to us about the newest and coolest apps, ultrabooks, and tablets… sure to be seen in your classroom (if not your own offices and tote bags!) in the near future.
 
David Landridge, Senior Partner Development Director for Microsoft Corp., gave us a glimpse into how the new tech landscape is influencing education, and shared how these changes impact today’s and tomorrow’s workforce.

 

Kobie BoykinsKobie Boykins, an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, recounted stories of his work on the frontlines of Mars exploration. He noted that the burning human curiosity is what drives Mars exploration, and also what inspires teachers to teach. Attendees also learned some fun facts; as Course Technology’s social media manager tweeted: “There are 24 hours and 37 minutes in a day on Mars! File that under: ‘things I learned at #CTconf14′”

 

Informative sessions

Haley Duck Course Technology Conference

Course Technology authors presented on a wide variety of topics and trends, including MOOCs, the flipped classroom, the latest and greatest apps, computer security, and the future of the Intro to Computing course. In addition, instructors from around the country were on hand to share their knowledge, experience, and insights on such topics as mobile learning, privacy issues, teaching students valuable career skills, and social media in the classroom. (To review the slide decks from many of these presentations, visit the Course Technology Conference website.) And, Cengage Learning was on hand to talk with attendees, provide support, and train users on how to get the most out of their SAM 2013 courses.

During the sessions, our attendees, presenters, and Course Technology employees shared photos, quick quotes, and real-time insights via social media. Thanks to Marie Roberts,  Eric Schmieder, Beverly Amer, and the many others who engaged with us before, during, and after the meeting! You can also check out Course Technology’s Twitter and search for the hashtag #CTConf14 to revisit these interactions.

Sharing good times at the Course Technology Conference

Line dancing at the Course Technology ConferenceOf course, it wouldn’t be a Course Technology Conference with a little—or make that a lot­—of fun! Attendees enjoyed treats such as line dancing, a songwriters’ showcase at the Grand Ole Opry, and parfaits made with Nashville’s classic candy, the Goo Goo Cluster.

But even the fun at the Opry drew our guests’ attention to the value of teaching and learning. As presenter Eric Schmieder ‏(@ejschmieder)  tweeted: “Great show at the @Opry tonight. As an educator I feel much like the songwriter who puts my best in someone else’s hands.” What’s more, one of the attendees had a chance to reconnect with a student… who now works at the Opry! It was a proud moment for both.

Thanks for attending!

To all who attended—thanks for coming, staying engaged, teaching us & one another about the latest in computing education. If you’d like to view or review many of the presentation decks from this year’s event, they’re now available at the Course Technology Conference website.
We look forward to seeing you in 2015 at a location yet to be announced. To be among the first to know where we’re headed next year, keep up with Course Technology on Facebook and Twitter. You can also keep the conversation going by sharing your thoughts and photos with us there! (And be sure to use the hashtag #CTConf14) Until next year…

Relive the 2014 Course Technology Conference with our wrap-up video