Education Conference

TCEA Convention & Exposition 2022: Roundup

The TCEA (Texas Computer Education Association) Convention & Exposition took place last week from Monday, Feb. 7, to Thursday, Feb. 10, at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. TCEA is a nonprofit organization that supports the use of technology in schools and that plays active roles in increasing technology funding and access for K–12 and higher education institutions. I had the opportunity to drop in on the convention for a day—Tuesday, Feb. 8—and the following are some loosely organized thoughts about my experience there.

Breaking the Ice

My first stop was a standing-room-only session in a room of 400 called “Go Ahead, I Dare You: Break the Ice.” The speaker was Brooke Lowery, Lead Learning Guide for friEd Technology. She talked about how teachers can use technology to spruce up classroom icebreakers and group activities instead of having to play the thousandth iteration of “Two Truths and a Lie.” She suggested copying games from daytime or late-night talk shows, recreating TikTok challenges, using voice modification websites for extra flair, and presented a variety of Pear Deck-based activities for student engagement. As someone who’s been out of the K–­12 sphere for more than 15 years, I was astounded at the ways teachers are adopting technology to meet students at their level.


My first media appointment was with Epson to discuss and get a walkthrough of their BrightLink GoBoard. The collaborative whiteboard solution came out in June 2021, and TCEA was its first public demonstration. As whiteboard space takes up prime real estate in classrooms, bigger is better, and use of projectors in spaces always helps encourage student participation. Teachers can approve individual student devices both to connect and to take over the screen and manipulate the content. BrightLink GoBoard supports wireless, real-time collaboration across up to 35 connected devices. Students can mirror their displays, annotate and share files from Microsoft Office, Google Docs and more. The software can mirror content across connected devices from PCs to MacBooks to tablets to Chromebooks. No other media player is required, and the software can embed videos, still images, Bing searches and more.


Next up, I spoke with Avantis to learn about how classrooms are adopting virtual reality technology to augment lesson plans. Avantis has gained notoriety for its ClassVR product, a set of VR goggles designed to improve student outcome through increased engagement and improve knowledge retention through personal experience. Avantis offers a full turnkey solution to use VR as an instructional tool; in this case, the software was developed first, and it was then tailored for use as an educational product. In addition to using videos, images, and 3D models, Avantis has introduced a fourth piece of a fully immersive experience: explorable scenes.

Avanti’s World is the world’s first VR educational theme park, featuring areas dedicated to science, geography, history and literature. Each environment comes with a suggested curriculum or lesson plan tailored for grades 5–9, but that can be tweaked for older or younger students. With the click of a button, students are instantly transported to the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, the bus where Rosa Parks declined to give up her seat, the inside of a human heart or even the surface of Mars. Billed as “the next generation of overhead transparency,” Avanti’s World helps students visualize and experience educational concepts firsthand.


Finally, UWorld offers preparation for a variety of standardized tests, from AP exams, ACTs and SATs to the MCAT, the bar exam and the NCLEX RN and PN. The company’s founder, Chandra Pemmasani, built the product in his dorm room as he was facing difficulty preparing for exams, and today he serves as its CEO. The interactive program covers the entire gamut of prescribed material for each exam. UWorld has a question-writing team of 30 people, all former AP teachers, who come up with practice multiple-choice and free-response questions for students. If a student selects a wrong answer, they’re presented with thorough but simple explanations as to why the correct answer is correct and each wrong answer is wrong. The UWorld Learning Platform also allows faculty to assign content and monitor performance at the individual, cohort, district or even campus level.

Finally, the UWorld AP Success Grant was designed to help schools and districts build equity in their AP programs. Grant recipients will receive access to the Learning Tools for AP Courses for all students for the 2022–23 school year, as well as personalized start-up training and ongoing support. This year’s applications are due March 31, 2022.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].