I’m writing from the NECC Conference in San Antonio, TX and am over- and under-whelmed at the same time.
This is my first NECC (I was hugely pregnant one year and then had a little bebe for the next 2), so I was a little surprised at what a major event this is. Ed tech is big business…not that I didn’t realize this before, but this conference only confirms it. Walking on the floor, perusing all the booths (EVERYONE is here…from SMART to Microsoft to Teacher Tube to Voice Thread…it’s endless) is overwhelming. There’s so much to see, nice give-aways (lots of free, reusable bags), and friendly folks.
But, of course, this being a business, not too much web 2.0 stuff is represented…mainly because there’s not much of it that’s saleable. Voice Thread and Teacher Tube have “pay” areas of their sites, but most of what is here is hardware (Intel, Microsoft, SMART) and software. Lots and lots of software…and a lot of it is insulting to teachers. One company demonstrated a system that was almost like teacher-on-autopilot. No thinking, planning, grading involved…they did it all for you. (To me, this would be one of the circles of hell.) I’m guessing that they don’t think teachers can learn how to use technology themselves for their OWN needs…and manipulate and customize it themselves and help their students have an empowering experience rather than a receptive experience with technology. Hmmm…
The other reaction I had is…will a lot of these small educational software companies even be AROUND in the next 5-10 years? I kind of doubt it. Back to the pressing question of “how do we make money when everyone is giving their ideas away for free”…why would anyone purchase software when there are tools on the web that are: (1) free, (2) interactive and collaborative, and (3) often easier to learn than the software itself?
NECC is still very old school. Lots of print brochures. Workshops given are in the “sage on the stage” style. Why not try a collaborative workshop…sort of a bring your ideas, educational think-tank experience? If that’s being done here, I’m not aware of it!