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My FETC Takeaways: AI & Adobe Express

This year, I attended my first FETC in Orlando, where I left behind the walls of the classroom and entered a beehive of innovation. I've learned from past tech-ed conferences to focus on a few themes instead of trying to cover too much ground, so AI and Adobe Express instantly sprang to mind. The conference buzzed with sessions on AI advancements. Personally, I've been exploring ChatGPT's potential to enhance my writing, particularly on my blog. At school, Adobe Express has become a go-to tool for both myself and my students. While teachers leveraged it to create personalized signature blocks, students crafted infographics and presentations.



FETC logo



I've been to the ISTE conference a few times, but this was my first experience at FETC. At both events, there are a variety of sessions covering a wide range of tech education topics, as well as interesting keynote speeches and lively EXPOs showing off cutting-edge ed tech products. There are some important differences. While both conferences showcase the latest tech trends through engaging sessions, captivating keynotes, and bustling vendor expos, ISTE's sheer size presented a wider, deeper dive with a bigger EXPO hall and a wider range of workshops. ISTE's summer schedule makes it easier to meet with educators from more placaes, while FETC's January program draws more teachers from Florida.

I've learned from past tech-ed conferences to focus on a few themes instead of trying to cover too much ground, so AI and Adobe Express instantly sprang to mind.

The FETC was unique in that it organized sessions into different tracks, including instructor, coach, IT, and leadership tracks. This made it easier to find workshops that met my needs. The format of each session at the two conferences was the same: a speaker spoke to a seated group. However, instead of ISTE's poster meetings, FETC held Leadership Round Tables. During poster sessions, people moved from station to station and talked to speakers at each one. During Leadership Round Tables, people had an in-depth conversation with a single presenter. Whether you seek the expansive ocean of ISTE or the focused currents of FETC, both conferences offer valuable opportunities for educators to connect, learn, and shape the future of tech-powered learning.

Artificial Intellegence

One of the keynote speakers was Dan Fitzpatrick, the author of “The AI Classroom:

Book Cover "The ultimate guide to Artificial Intelligence in Education"

Teaching and Learning the Artificial Intelligence Revolution.” He dazzled the audience with AI's creative power, showcasing its ability to craft speeches, songs, and even Papal fashion! But beyond the wow factor, he delivered a sobering dose of reality. Research has shown ChatGPT matching doctors in suggesting diagnoses for medical conditions, and that AI was better at customer service than human workers. These advancements spark crucial questions about future jobs. To addresss these concerns, collaboration will be key, the speaker stressed, while cautioning against hasty predictions. The pandemic highlighted a stark divide between tech-savvy students and those left behind, showcasing the power and peril of technology. Education, he argued, is the bridge to closing this gap. But the divide doesn't stop there. Teachers themselves, he pointed out, face their own hurdles in embracing AI tools. The speaker's urgent call is to integrate AI into teaching now to prepare our students for the future they deserve.

One session at the conference truly resonated with me: prompt engineering. The key takeaway was profound – clear and specific prompts unlock the potential of both AI and student learning. This reinforces the importance of language acquisition and clear writing, potentially prompting a shift in English classes from essay writing to effective communication. This could benefit all students, including those learning English as a second language and students with disabilities, by focusing on concrete writing. Learning how to write effective prompts improves writing skills by making students tweak their words to get the results they want, similar to how a programmer changes their code to get a computer to do what they want it to do.

Google Bard logo

I had only used Generative AI in ChatGPT before the conference, so I was excited to attend a session on Bard, Google's AI tool. Bard is still an experiment and doesn't have a version just for schools, but it does have some nice features that make it easy to use, like the ability to go back and read past conversations as far back as 18 months. Unlike ChatGPT, it can incorporats images in its responses and you can include images in prompts. You can also have it fact-check its own responses. Both of them have been fun for me to play around with, and I often use them together to get the best result. One feature of Bard that I truly enjoy is that it provides the user with multiple responses to each prompt.

Adobe Express

Adobe Express logo

Adobe Express is a versatile and user-friendly online platform that offers a range of creative tools for individuals looking to enhance their digital content. With a focus on simplicity and accessibility. There is an education version that is free for teachers and students that includes Education resources and premium templates, images, and video.

FriEdtech's "Discover quick wins with Adobe Express" session packed a punch, showcasing handy features like background removal, PDF conversion, QR code creation, resizing images, and even generating AI images based on text prompts – all filtered for safety. The AI image creation could be used to help students learn to write clear descriptive text. Want animated characters? Breathe life into them with your voice using "Animate from audio." Choose your character, record your voice, and watch their mouth move in sync! You can also boost audio quality with the noise reduction button, perfect for busy environments. Imagine animated school tours or historical explorations with ancient Roman guides – the possibilities are endless.


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