Tag Archives: EdNET

EdNET 2014, in words and video

For almost two decades, I made it a habit to take notes at industry conferences, then distribute them by email to colleagues. With the subsequent advent of blogs and YouTube, I stopped that quaint practice three years ago.

EdNET logoBut people still want to know what happened at the conferences, or the conference sessions, they couldn’t attend.

MDR recently summed up takeaways from its long-standing EdNET education industry conference on its site. As a consulting senior analyst for the EdNET Insight market research service, I was asked for some unvarnished takeaways, and came up with the following:

  • A recurring theme was that time is of the essence in making sure education technology actually lives up to its promise. Richard Culatta of the U.S. Office of Educational Technology noted, “Let’s be clear: there is a (limited time) window” for using edtech to help transform education. David Sample of itslearning said for certain types of edtech to prove its worth, “That hourglass is running out of sand.” And a startup said when the “froth” of the edtech market might end keeps her up at night.
  • Robert Lytle of the Parthenon Group hit one school pain point directly: Edtech companies still do an awful job of describing what products and services actually DO. Getting beyond marketing buzzwords — to clarity — is critical.
  • Lytle also had the sobering observation that even though K-12 education funding is recovering to pre-recession levels, almost all of the dollars represented by that recovery will be eaten up by pension and health care obligations — making spending on products and services a zero-sum game.
  • In the View from the Catbird Seat analyst session, an update on digital Open Badges from last year noted that there has been little traction inside commercial education products, even though individual K-12 teachers have jumped on the opportunity to define and issue their own badges for student motivation and accomplishments. One exception has been in professional development, where there are a number of efforts to recognize teachers with micro-credentials (issued and displayed as Open Badges) that will be accepted by districts and institutions.

You can read the full set of EdNET Insight analyst takeaways here, in context, on the EdNET Insight News Alerts site.

And if that View from the Catbird Seat discussion sounded enticing, you can re-live the entire session on YouTube (if you’re curious, fast-forward to 10:45 to get to my observations on the state of Open Educational Resources, or OER, in the industry):

Other EdNET 2014 sessions had presentations, videos or both, and they’re available on the EdNET conference site by clicking on the links embedded in each session or speaker name for Monday September 29 or Tuesday September 30.

 Yup. We’ve come a long way from emailed conference notes.

Do edtech products need Open Badges?

Mozilla’s Open Badges provide portable proof of competence for students earning them and can live on outside of the issuing edtech product or platform. So should education companies adopt them?

Over at EdNET Insight News Alerts, I briefly define what Open Badges are, and offer my take on the pros and cons for education startups and established firms.

In brief: Open Badges are part of an open technical standard, free for anyone to use, to create digital badges that represent some kind of underlying knowledge, skill or accomplishment. There’s embedded information (metadata) in each Open Badge image that makes it easy to verify and hard to counterfeit. OpenBadges_Insignia_EarnOur_Banner

So, if an organization is already thinking of adding some kind of badging system to its product or platform to mark learner participation or mastery, or to provide motivation to progress, why not?

As a side note, the EdNET Insight post actually is a follow up to my EdNET 2013 conference presentation on Open Badges in September 2013. Open Badges have gained a fair amount more traction since then, and while certainly not ubiquitous, uptake is going in the right direction.

I’m not done with Open Badges, either. I’ve just completed a (cough) 35+ page detailed Insight Report for EdNET Insight that goes into some depth, with examples, on Open Badges for a non-techie education business audience. Plans are for it to be published in early July as part of the EdNET Insight market research service.

But in the meantime, whet your appetite with, “We don’t need no … Wait. Maybe we do,” over at EdNET Insight News Alerts.

Of Open Badges and EdNET 2013

EdNET logoI’ve provided a highly abbreviated (of the Twittersphere variety) capsule summary of the EdNET 2013 analyst session in which I, along with well-known analysts Nelson Heller and Anne Wujcik, shared thoughts about the highs and lows of the past 25 years in education and technology. In it, I also presented a brief primer on digital Open Badges as they are, and might be, used in K-12 schools for credentials and for motivation.

Now you can actually see what we discussed and displayed at this year’s education industry conference in Denver.

Over at MDR’s EdNET site, the slides, video and resources have been posted. For our View from the Catbird Seat session, scroll down to the bottom of the agenda, and click on the session title for the video; the resources and slides are more obviously linked.

OpenBadges_logoMore directly, you can download the Catbird session slides as a PDF here (my “We Don’t Need No … Wait” graphics begin on slide 8). And you can view my part with animations and audio by starting the video at 16:20, since my slides are basically graphics, not bullet text to be read verbatim while viewing the slides, that make more sense with explanatory commentary.

The upshot? If an education company or other organization is going to include some kind of badge-issuing capability for teachers and students in its software, I recommend it consider Mozilla’s Open Badge Infrastructure. Not only is it an open standard, Open Badges are “smarter” than static digital badge images (they embed useful metadata about the issuer and earner). They are also more student-centric, because they live outside of any individual company’s closed software. That way, students can acquire and combine them over time, from different sources.

I also suggest that the bulk of badges provided be assessment-based. While badges issued for participation do serve a motivational purpose, a badge that has an assessment required to earn it enables competency-based education, providing portable proof of what could be very granular competence. And, because the digital Open Badge represents an accomplishment, skill or knowledge, likely will have much more value to both the student earning it and the person viewing it (be they educators, college admissions officers or employers), long-term.

As I note in the session video, an over-reliance on participation-based badges can lead to “Gold Star Syndrome,” with badges “used as motivational tools (but) as proof of nothing. It’s proof you showed up. Ninety percent of life may be just showing up, but it doesn’t make for a very good work credential.”

See more in the video (starting at 16:20, including pros/cons at roughly 22:00 and then Q&A) or slides (starting at 8). And the resources I reference to learn more about using Open Badges as digital credentials? You can download all of them here, at this convenient link. But do make time to watch the entire session: Anne and Nelson have great observations.

Privacy, digital disconnects at EdNET 2013

Education industry execs say the darndest things. And at EdNET 2013 in Denver, one of the major education industry conferences, that remained the case.

Over at EdSurge, I pull together the common threads from the 25th annual EdNET in the areas of privacy issues and digital disconnects (and toss in a few “heard and overheard” quotes).

What I didn’t include is the wide range of predictions and observations in the closing View from the Catbird Seat session, which featured long-time, knowledgeable session leaders Anne Wujcik and Nelson Heller, accompanied for the second year by a relative newcomer.

The Catbird session started with us being asked to describe the biggest successes of the past 25 years (I chose NetDay‘s wiring of classrooms for the Internet and the double-edged sword of “edtech” going mainstream), biggest disappointments, then go in depth on a trend with a brief presentation, and end with our predictions for the future of education (mine with a nod to my recent GeekWire column on the unexpected — at the time — runaway success of the first graphical web browser).

Tweets tell the tale. Starting with the disappointment.






Some of my Catbird-recommended resources on understanding and using Mozilla Foundation’s Open Badges for student accomplishments (as well as for other types of digital credentials) are linked here. For the rest of the EdNET themes, read “EdNET 2013: Privacy Goes Very Public,” at EdSurge.

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.

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.

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.