Education is Big Business- What will we be sold this year?

28 06 2014

ISTE Expo SetupAs I sit here in the ISTE 2014 Bloggers Cafe overlooking the Expo, I am struck by the scale of the space and the work that goes into the set up of such a space. With each area being assigned a “zip code” booths are currently being assembled in preparation for the opening tomorrow. As I look at the size of some of the booths and banners, it is hard not to think about the impact that big business has on education. In fact, it is clear that education in itself, big business. How will the business of education interact with the business of “stuff” this year at ISTE?

While I am not in the market for “stuff”, it looks like I will have plenty to review and explore when the Expo opens. One of the things I like to do as see what is being pitched as the best for changing the way education is done and improving outcomes. Generally, I find most products being pitched in education run counter to my epistemic perspective of how learning happens, what is important to learn and simply put, what teaching and learning should look like. In past years, it was the Interactive Whiteboard, Office Software, Learning Management Systems, Clickers, and a massive amount of software that will drill kids in all they need to know to do well with all of the state mandated testing.

From the size of the banners from where I sit, it looks like the story is still going to be the same. Edmodod, Panasonic, Extreme networks, Epson, Blackboard, MA, Toshiba, Pearson,McGraw Hill, Smart are just a few of the huge banners I see out there. Yet, I am very skeptical that any of these companies will have the latest “stuff” that could really shake things up. This means that those items and ideas will likely be in the smaller booths that will require me to really dig below all of the hype.

This year, I will be on a search for those items that are most open, have the potential for the greatest impact, support the most creative forms of learning and are based on sound research. I will be looking for the items that are most likely to maximize intrinsic engagement in students and break down walls between disciplines. What will it be? What will I find? What will you find? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments as you explore the Expo this year and what you feel will have the greatest positive impact in education moving forward.

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