This week I attended the 39th annual convening of the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando, FL, and while 39 may not be a particularly “auspicious” year in most cases, this was nonetheless an interesting and forward-leaning conference.

Although EdTech conferences have been around for decades, early learners (and those who teach them) have often been left out of conversations around EdTech exposure and integration. This year’s FETC marked a notable change in this trend. FETC organizers put forth a more inclusive vision of the future of education technology.

By sharing best practices, learning about emerging technologies, and developing strategies to discern the what and when of technology usage, these educators are embracing the opportunities and challenges of teaching kids who were born into a digitally enhanced society.

Several products that enable open-ended exploration and creativity for early learners were showcased during the conference.  Many of these focused on making often-abstract concepts like coding or design thinking tangible for young children. They provide opportunities for students to create rather than simply consume digital media.The following five tools were some of the best examples of these traits that I saw at FETC:

  1. Kibo from KinderLab Robotics- Kibo is a robot partner students can direct by coding via the use of tangible, wooden pictogram blocks to provide directions.
  2. Book Creator-This application enables early learners to make their own combinations of text, pictures and video.
  3. Bee-Bot & Blue Bot-Robots shaped like bees, accessories in a Bluetooth setting.
  4. Root- A digital reader, writer, speaker, light emitter and whiteboard on wheels.
  5. Q-Ball-A “throwable wireless microphone” can be used in individual, small group, and whole group settings.

Read the full article about early learning and the future of edtech by Erin Gohl at Getting Smart.