Denver is about to get much smarter than a 5th grader, thanks to thousands of educators who will pour in to the Colorado Convention Center June 26-30 to attend the ISTE (ahem, that’s the “International Society For Technology In Education” – stick with the acronym) Conference later this month. The last time Denver hosted ISTE, it drew over 16,000 attendees and more than 500 technology vendors.
ISTE (#ISTE2016 if you tweet) represents the best hands-on shopping opportunity in town for teachers, trainers, and the administrative professionals that make schools and districts work. There will be more than 600 exhibitors spanning categories like school security, interactive displays and whiteboards, computing and tablets, learning-based games, robotics, digital science labs, streaming, drones, 3D printers and more. Even for a high-tech teacher, ISTE can be downright intimidating due to its plethora of brainy products, especially for first-time attendees.Joyce Seward, a 5th grade Science Teacher and technology team leader from Fort Collins, says she’s going to scope her “big 3”:
- Presentation systems (interactive classroom displays, whiteboards, projectors)
- Mobile computing (Chromebooks, tablets, portable devices and learning systems)
- Science labs (Sensing equipment, data-logging, microscopy, etc)
Seward’s underlying focus is on technology that supports mobile teaching. “We have new policies in place that allow teachers to get [out] of the classroom more often,” said Seward when asked why mobile was so important. “And for teaching science, that’s exciting.”
Research suggests that the “big 3” focus is not uncommon. Market studies by Futuresource, a research consulting company that tracks technology purchasing trends by schools and districts around the world, suggests that the market for mobile devices in education has risen by 18.3% in less than 6 months. Much of this is due to the popularity of Chromebooks devices, which collectively have over 50% market share in the US.
“Educational technology is evolving quickly,” says Ian Bryan, Vice President of Marketing for Canadian software maker EXO U. “We’ve seen a lot of interest in recent years from investment banks and even a number of education companies going public. That means lots of start-ups, lots of big companies re-inventing, and lots of options that meet very custom needs.”
While great for Denver’s tax base, these market conditions also create problems for schools and districts interested in purchasing new technology. Startups rise and fall each year, which can be a disaster if their lesson plans, security systems and student data are housed in online software. Educators have to carefully inspect technology vendors for their capacity to protect student data, encrypt communications, and respond to tech support when teachers have in-class needs.
ISTE will take place at the Colorado Convention Center June 26-29. Registration starts for students at $199. Learn more at https://conference.iste.org/2016/.