Events: The Inside Scoop From SXSWedu 2012
This is a guest post from Kimberly Reeves, longtime reporter on education issues in Texas:
Here are a few lessons I learned learn after attending two major ed tech conferences in Austin in the last month, first the Texas Computer Education Association conference and then last week's SXSWedu:
(1) While many baby boomers might be resistant, ed tech has a broader audience than you think. More than 15,000 teachers and technology specialists attended the weeklong Texas Computer Education Association conference last month. Attendance at every other state conference, and many national conferences, pales by comparison. And, yes, they actually do attend the sessions, rather rabidly.
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(2) Ed tech has finally reached the point where it’s no longer a prop. When I was a fledgling journalism teacher, Pagemaker was still on a single disc. (Remember discs? Me neither.) I sat in a session at TCEA where on-demand games with handheld devices gave teachers real-time feedback on what students did and did not know. Can you imagine the impact that could have on learning? Technology is no longer some outlet for “drill and kill;” it’s actually part of your teaching.
(3) We need to stop thinking about technology in terms of desktops. BYOD is the byword of the ed tech community down in Texas, which is short for “bring your own device.” Last week, the Eanes ISD school board outside Austin scrapped plans for desktops and smart boards and put all its money on iPads for every child in the district. At a House hearing last month, the Lamar High School principal out of Houston told me he wants to put all textbooks on iPads so that students could carry four years of reference material wherever they went.
(4) There still needs to be a healthy amount of skepticism in the marketplace. I kept hearing at SXSWedu that the presence of behemoths like Pearson and Epsilen in the marketplace has really stifled getting smaller scrappier apps to the classroom, not to mention open source textbooks. Hence, what’s out there in the wild, wild land of ed tech is a whole lot of good ideas but not always great execution. They had a term for the entrepreneurs who dominated SXSWedu asa way to make a sales pitch: product bombing. And ed tech bloggers, in another session, were critical of education reporters who fawned over every app asthe latest and the greatest. Caveat emptor.
(5) Some are ready to bite the hand that feeds them. SXSWedu was created last year to showcase the Texas Education Agency’s collaborative platform,Project SHARE. This year, the sessions shifted more to product pitches and keynotes from Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The hard-core ed tech types in the state, skeptical by nature, were not amused. Duncan’s comments to the group were met with some derision and Occupy Austin picketed Scardino. Already the anti-Pearson opt-out movement is taking hold in Texas.
I always like to leave posts with links so here are some for you.
Duncan strokes techie egos at SXSWedu Texas Observer
Two views, both accurate, of Duncan’s speech at SXSWedu: http://www.techwithintent.com/storify/
The wiki set up by the Opt Out testing movement:
And the three best Twitter feeds for Texas ed tech news from the trenches: