I recently had the amazing opportunity to go to a tech conference down in Orlando, Fla. FETC is a tech convention dealing with technology in the classroom. It is currently the second largest educational tech conference in the country, with the largest being the national. Thanks to its size, there were some big playing companies that showed up. Some of the big companies included: Microsoft; Lenovo; and my personal favorite, Google. The staff from these companies worked on the show-floor, most of the conference was filled with labs and lectures, and I even got to present for a lab.
The lab was led by my boss, Ernest Staats, Georgia-Cumberland Academy IT director, who asked me to come along and present with him for his hacking/security lab. I was both thrilled and floored by this prospect and hastily said yes. The lab was filled with people who knew what they were talking about. Presenters ranged from various large public schools to small Christian schools. There was even one gentleman there managing 60,000 laptops on a one-to-one program on his network.
The lab itself ran for a little over six hours. It covered everything from seeing what your network looked like, to totally tanking a network. Now the lab itself was about knowing the problems and then fixing the holes. I spent a good deal of time as a lab assistant, running around fixing errors on the computers, replacing corrupt files, and re-explaining various steps. The rest of the time, however, I was presenting.
I was on the “seeing your network” end of things. I talked about a tool called Opsview, which is used to create visual maps of a network. I went through the process of building a basic map. I explained how we used the maps to speed up our response time, “To make us a Verizon commercial.” as my boss puts it, and to raise people’s opinions of us and what we do. “When people see our network map they see how much we actually manage, and it automatically raises how high they think our IQ is,” this was one of the major points that I hit on throughout the presentation.
The presenting was only half of the conference. The other half we spent jumping through various lectures, giving one of our own, and hitting the show-floor. Our time on the show-floor was spent looking for tools to better our current network, and replacements for our current laptops. We got to look through everything from crazy powerful android tablets, the best and the worst of Chromebooks, Lenovo laptops announced that very day, and software ranging from digital textbooks, to student collaboration software, and even Minecraft for education. My purpose of being on the floor was to analyze from a student prospective, but also weigh in the work of the IT department. I also joined several customers ofAerohive, and a few engineers and members of corporate, for dinner at Maggiano's to discuss the latest features and network trends.
As a whole the trip was an amazing opportunity. I got to meet a few people up in high places, and even get my name tossed around a bit. I learned a lot on the trip and felt that I provided valuable insight to Staats, those in the lab and lectures, and those who I met on the show-floor. I feel incredibly blessed that I was able to experience this trip.
by Landon Stoner, Georgia-Cumberland Academy junior