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Ten Things We Learned at HI-TEC


I spent four days at the High Impact Technology Exchange Conference (better known as HI-TEC) in Chicago recently.  In between my usual administrative duties, I was able to attend seven conference breakout sessions that covered a variety of topics, from program development and best practices to the basics of cloud computing and cyberforensics.

Below are ten fascinating things that I learned.


1. Old “e-books” may have been simple PDFs with embedded URLs, but new e-book formats use HTML-driven widgets that keep the student “inside” the book, rather than sending him/her “outside” to webpages that may or may not still be active or current.


2. Technicians who will manage new “internet of things” networks will likely need to be cross-trained.  Mastering IT networking alone may no longer be enough.  “Mechatronics” programs – in which students learn both automotive and electronics engineering – are one example of the need for multi-disciplinary approaches to a changing technological landscape.


3. To develop a successful social media presence on Twitter, you should tweet at least three times a day: morning, lunch time, and evening. (If you’re interested in this topic, you can watch the video from the session here:


4. When creating open source curriculum, make your own photos and videos.  Even if you get permission to use a YouTube video or a third-party diagram, there’s always a chance that someone somewhere will change their mind and revoke the permission and put you in a real bind.  It’s always better to create and control your own content.


5. “Action research” focuses on results.  Small groups – such as a collection of educators looking for ways to improve math homework completion – identify a problem, conduct surveys and interviews to develop possible solutions, then test those solutions to see what works and what doesn’t.  Successes can be rolled out to larger populations.  It’s a process designed to be nimble and emphasize discovery and innovation.  Contrast this with  the slower, formal, and more thorough “academic research.”  The goal is to find a solution, not publish a paper.


6. By 2020, between 20 and 50 billion devices worldwide will be connected to the internet.


7. NIST lists five essential characteristics of cloud computing: on-demand self-service (consumer provisioning), broad network access, resource pooling (spreading the cost among many), rapid elasticity, and measured service.  A true cloud needs all five.  Virtualization and storage are only part of what makes a cloud a cloud.  And no, the internet is not the cloud. (Video from this session will be posted on our YouTube channel in the near future, stay tuned)


8. In an ideal world, the first math course a first-year college student takes should be one level below their last high school class to allow the student time to ramp up to the college culture and pace.


9. If female students tend to “undersell” themselves and claim they can’t do something when they really can, male students tend to “oversell” themselves and claim they can do something when they really cannot. (Video from this session will also be posted on our YouTube channel, stay tuned for this too)


10. Cell phones drove the development and implementation of 3G and 4G.  It will be the internet of things that drives the development and implementation of 5G, which should be standardized by 2018.

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