Category Archives: Education

Tech ideal vs. the real classroom

There’s a lot written about how educators have made great strides with digital resources and technology in their classrooms. But where generalizations paint a positive picture, reality shows there’s little consistency across classrooms or schools.

Over at EdNET Insight, I’ve detailed a lively session I moderated at the Association of Educational Publishers’ 2011 Content in Context Conference, “What Schools Want and Where You Fit In.” Videos, combined with a panel of administrative and policy leaders, clearly demonstrated that even high-profile tech implementations are all over the place: “one-to-one” now raises questions of “one-to-one what?” and teachers are cobbling together whatever digital tech fits their needs and budgets.

Read “Tech Ideal vs. the Real Classroom” at EdNET Insight.

SIIA 2011 Ed Tech Industry Summit notes

It appears to be a banner year for interest in educational technology and digital learning. Close to 400 education and technology execs attended the Software and Information Industry Association’s 2011 Ed Tech Industry Summit in San Francisco in late May.

As one of several people live-tweeting Summit sessions, I developed a set of notes covering highlights of the Innovation Incubator Program, three keynote talks and five panels. In addition, I offer brief thoughts on why there’s increased interest in the field, industry concerns about Open Educational Resources and the influence of consumer digital preferences on education.

Download the SIIA 2011 Ed Tech Industry Summit notes in PDF, or visit the complete Intrinsic Strategy Conference Notes archive.

Three ‘secrets’ of the digital classroom

Call it the digital classroom nobody (or few outside the industry) knows. In my latest GeekWire column, I take my vocation — consulting largely to companies in digital learning and education tech — and identify three important trends that were woven into the annual Software and Information Industry Association Ed Tech Industry Summit in San Francisco. And make them understandable to, uh, mere geeks.

Because these three trends differ from what is happening in digital consumer and business markets. Yet they can be very important, due to the number of people K-12 education touches.

As someone who’s on the Education Division Board of the SIIA, it’s easy for me (and others in the industry) to assume a level of understanding about digital changes and drivers in schools among the general public that doesn’t necessarily exist, unless, of course, that member of the public also happens to work in an education institution or company. This essay attempts to bridge that gap.

Read “Three ‘secrets’ of the digital classroom” at Geekwire.

Update 8/5/11: The three trends have been expanded upon, with newer information from the Association of Educational Publishers’ Content in Context Conference and ISTE 2011, in the in-depth essay “Three drivers of the digital classroom” published in the Strategic News Service newsletter and archived here.

The very preliminary agenda for EdNET 2020

Over at EdNET News Alert, I’ve had some fun (thanks to the calendar) with what the program for an education or ed tech industry conference might look like at the start of the next decade in “The Very Preliminary Agenda for EdNET 2020.

There was a lot more I could have included — for example, internationalization of education was suggested by one reader, and you can probably think of your own additions — but in any essay like this, it’s important not to go on too long.

Still, occasionally some truth resides in humor. You can decide for yourself at the EdNET News Alert site.

Science destroying my childhood: the video

Remember Pluto? The brontosaurus? Starfish? If so, the accuracy of your childhood science memories are now, well, wrong. According to science itself.

O’Reilly has kindly posted my Ignite talk on the subject from Ignite Seattle 11. For those unfamiliar with the Ignite format, each speaker gets five minutes and 20 slides – the slides auto-advance every 15 seconds, and the speaker is not allowed notes on stage. It’s a wonderful, terrifying event.

Here’s the talk, How Science Is Destroying My Childhood. Judge for yourself:

And if you’re tempted to try your own Ignite talk, read my tips for success. Or, at least, not abject failure.

Seattle’s invisible tech industry

Over at TechFlash, I opine on a topic I usually reserve for other venues — education technology,  specifically edtech companies’ oddly low profile in Seattle. Odd in that you’d think their presence on the Gates Foundation’s home turf would lead to the opposite result.

I suggest three reasons. Plus a potential fix or two. (And yes, I know I left out several Seattle-area edtech firms, such as SchoolKiT and TeachStreet, and local operations of Apperson Education and Promethean’s ActivProgress division. It wasn’t a lack of love, just space.)

Read the full commentary, “Seattle’s Invisible Tech Industry,” at TechFlash.

Fall 2010 conference notes

The dreary gray depths of winter are a good time to reflect on the internal state of the education technology industry. (Not for navel gazing over a hot adult beverage. To plan for the rest of 2011.)

Having attended MDR’s EdNET 2010 in late September and the Software and Information Industry Association’s 2010 Ed Tech Business Forum in late November, live-tweeting both conferences as @FrankCatalano, I thought it could be useful to create a combined set of notes. They chronicle commonalities in three industry areas: policy and funding issues, customer needs, and product and company trends. Plus the ever-popular overheard off-hand quotes.

You can download the combined EdNET 2010/SIIA 2010 Ed Tech Business Forum notes here. And visit Intrinsic Strategy’s Conference Notes page for an archive of all 2010 conference notes: SIIA Ed Tech Industry Summit, Association of Educational Publishers Content in Context Conference, and ISTE 2010. They’re free and fully available to share. Beverage not included.

If I (only) had 100 marketing dollars

Fair warning: This advice is going to piss off a lot of advertising sales reps.

A question I get fairly often is, “Where should I spend my marketing budget?” The hidden question in the question is Blasieholmen_1930that there are magical tactics, unknown to mere mortals, that will propel market awareness and sales to Olympian heights.

There aren’t, of course. But there are tactics for any new tech-related product in the new decade which are definite musts. And a lot more are “it depends.” Or even “hell no.”

Now for the Olympus-sized caveat. This advice works best for a digital product or service launched by a start-up with a limited budget. It was originally developed for education technology products, a market which has characteristics of both business-to-business/government sales (administrators) and business-to-consumer sales (teachers). I originally delivered it at the 2010 Software and Information Industry Association Ed Tech Business Forum in New York City. But there are nuggets in here for everyone, especially in the “musts.” Continue reading If I (only) had 100 marketing dollars

How science is destroying my childhood

If there is a defining interest throughout my career, it’s science and technology. I’ve written science fiction for magazines, reported on new science and tech developments for radio, television and newspapers, and consulted education and consumer technology companies.

So it may come as no surprise that I cherish my childhood memories of science — even as science itself is wiping them out, one by one.

Over at TechFlash, I’ve written a guest essay, “How Science is Destroying My Childhood.” It’s based on my Ignite Seattle 11 talk on the same topic but with a few facts I didn’t have time to slip into the five-minute Ignite presentation. No planets, dinosaurs or sea creatures were harmed in the writing of the essay.

Teachers, tech & entreaties

Over at EdNET News Alert, I’ve summed up a fascinating conference session designed to get teachers to tell educational publishing execs exactly what they want from digital technology in the classroom. EdNET logoSome 300 execs at the Association of Educational Publishers’ Content in Context Conference heard 20 educators tell them directly, in videos they’d submitted, their successes, obstacles and desires for effective digital classrooms. Even if it’s anecdotal, it’s instructive.

Pulling this session together was a group effort: the teacher social network edWeb.net promoted and discussed the video submissions in their Classrooms in the Digital Age community; AEP managed the YouTube video uploads from the teachers in the Teacher Video Challenge playlist; and I had fun selecting the videos to be shown and weaving them together with a 90-minute panel and audience discussion at the conference itself.

You can read the five common themes that came out of the videos on the EdNET News Alert site.