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Q&A: How One FETC Exhibitor Aims to Impact the Classroom Environment

The 2020 Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) will include an Expo Hall with 400+ exhibiting companies featuring the latest technologies and newest products on the market, to go along with the 600+ learning opportunities for educators and administrators of all roles. The conference is coming up soon, January 14-17 in Miami. 

In advance of the conference, we are taking the opportunity to hear from some of the exhibiting companies about what they’ll be demonstrating to attendees and what they hope to learn in Miami. Fasetto is one such company who will display their classroom presentation solution, and in this Q&A with CMO Dan Bruck, educators can hear about some of the research on classroom seating and the problems the company aims to solve. Bruck also discusses some of the trends he’s observing in edtech and thoughts on the conversations the company hopes to have with decision-makers at the conference.

Q: There’s long been discussion about classroom seating arrangements and their potential correlation to students’ academic performance. For example, whether students who sit toward the front of the class get more engaged and perform better or, potentially, whether students who already have a tendency to be more engaged would self-select into certain seating positions. Have you found any evidence to support the relationship between classroom seating positions and various student performance factors?

Dan Bruck: Multiple studies have shown that student performance, participation, retention and understanding can vary greatly depending on their seat position in a classroom or lecture hall. More specifically, research revealed students who sit in rows further back or off-to-the-side do not perform as well or interact as much as a student who sits directly in the front or middle rows. 

A 2017 study, The Influence of Seating Location on Student Engagement, Experience, and Course Performance, found that students paid more attention to the subject matter 56% of the time when sitting in the back of the room, 68% of the time when sitting in the middle of the room, and 75% when sitting in the front of the room. 

Smartboards and displays often exacerbate the problem as the smaller screens result in even more challenges for students who sit off-axis or back a few rows. A 65-inch monitor or display in an average-sized classroom will result in over 70% of the students having an inferior experience, on average. That means more than one-third of the students sit completely outside the optimal viewing location. This hinders a student’s ability to see and comprehend the information presented on the display by the teacher. Plus, many classrooms are not equipped with a display device due to limited resources. 

We designed our presentation solution, Forum, with these factors in mind and to give every student a front row seat, no matter their location. This video illustrates how Forum can alleviate disparities in the classroom.

Q: Technology is frequently discussed with regard to its ability to foster development of 21st century skills such as communication and collaboration. We don’t often hear these conversations specifically centered around students who are more introverted, and the ways tech can help them find their voice in the classroom. What insights do you have in this area? 

DB: Classrooms and lecture halls tend to favor extroverts by nature. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 74% of people fear public speaking, and having to ask questions increases this anxiety. But rapid advances in technology empower introverted students. When creating Forum, we understood that just because people suffer from glossophobia, it doesn’t mean that their questions or contributions are not worthy or valid. With that in mind, we wanted to incorporate systems that would help people find their voices, and that’s why we created a discreet digital Q&A session and live polling that ensures every student has a voice. Over time, this process will build confidence and encourage all students to participate verbally. 

Q: Understandably with FETC being the Future of Education Technology Conference, there will be a lot of discussion in Miami about the future of both education and tech, and how these factors will support one another as we move forward. What trends are you observing or predicting that will influence the future of edtech?

DB: We’ve consistently seen augmented reality, podcasts, and artificial intelligence as topics of conversation; but for us, the major shift that pervades almost all trends is integrating smart spaces in education and utilizing them to create a more engaging experience for both students and teachers. Since educators are invested in our students’ comprehension and learning, it’s imperative to incorporate technology that empowers and encourages learning for all personality types. With Forum, we’ve created a tool that encourages fluid teaching modes and provides front-row visibility and accessibility along with features that engage students and facilitate learning.

Q: One of the best opportunities for FETC exhibitors is the chance to interact with educators from every role across a district and hear their relevant insights. What are you hoping to learn at the conference?

DB: We would love to attain additional first-hand feedback on current challenges faced in integrating new technologies in the classroom, gather overall feedback on how educators would like to better engage with students and what technologies they’re currently utilizing. Plus, there is always an economic consideration with any edtech purchase. We consider one of Forum’s best attributes to be its zero capital expense because it utilizes the devices already present in the classroom. We would like to test this assumption with district decision-makers.

About Dan Bruck

Dan Bruck is the Chief Marketing Officer of Fasetto. He thrives at the intersection of art and commerce.  His career started in the entertainment industry in Hollywood where he produced and directed network reality TV shows.  Yet he also has an MBA specializing in Business Communication. Crafting corporate taglines, writing national ads, winning dozens of awards for media projects and producing webinars, events and tradeshows with unprecedented ROI led to marketing leadership roles at several companies. 

The 40th anniversary Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) will take place January 14-17, 2020 in Miami, Fla. Registration is now open at Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC)

Further Reading
This post includes mentions of a partner of MindRocket Media Group the parent company of edCircuit
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