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The Virtual Version of PETE&C - No Chocolate Provided

Ah, PETE&C. . . the Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference. . . .in normal times this event gathers like-minded technology administrators and educators from around the state and beyond in Hershey to learn and network.

Of course, it was held virtually this year.

Typically an immersive experience, the halls of the Hershey Lodge or Hotel are quite a change of pace as a campus for educators. There’s something about that vibe, and the frequent smell of chocolate is a nice touch.

The planners of V-PETE2021. The planning and organization were beyond impressive, and there were plenty of pros to this format.

One logistical detail I appreciated was the capability to easily hop between sessions. It’s quite the opposite experience from being trapped in a middle row of a physical room after realizing the session is not what I expected. I did not miss that panicked feeling of “wasting” an hour because I could not imagine crawling over several people to escape.

I also found great value in the incorporation of chat, which served as a backchannel. Just like in a classroom, this provided the opportunity for more participants to have a voice, adding to the conversation.

As for the actual sessions, I logged onto so many wonderful ones, both live and in the archived version. The recordings are available to registrants for another six months, which is another perk to this structure. However, for the last several years, many of the in-person sessions were captured and also made available virtually. I didn’t typically take advantage of this, but I suspect I will in the future.

One specific Hit for my professional knowledge was a session titled SEL Practices for Adults in Virtual Settings. Since most of my work is with teachers, I found that I could put the ideas into practice. The presenter (Dr. Laura McCusker from IU 12) started the session by asking attendees to introduce themselves in chat and include a food that is associated with their area. As you can imagine, we immediately bonded over this; it probably helped that it was held around lunchtime! 🍲

For misses, I personally felt the void of energy and immersion. But that’s about it!

Over the days, I noticed names in chat identifying educators from our area. Please comment with your own Hits and Misses! Keep in mind that we model good digital citizenship in regards to Misses.


Brenda Calhoun is an Educational Technology Specialist with Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8 and is also a Google for Education Certified Trainer. Brenda works very closely with teachers and technology leaders to inspire and support the innovative use of technology in learning.

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1 Comment

Tracy Rains
Tracy Rains
Feb 17, 2021

Hi Brenda, I am so excited to check out your "hit" session: SEL Practices for Adults in Virtual Settings. I think that a hit for me was the keynote by Inky Johnson, it was right up my alley! I really wish they had a more energetic kick off, that was a missed opportunity. I am looking forward to going back and watching sessions that I missed! (I had purchased a very LARGE bag of Hershey Kisses for the conference but it just wasn't the same).

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