Education technology conferences exist on a spectrum that ranges between those
that cater to technologists who happen to be in education and those that
address issues facing traditional publishers who fear they are being
dragged into a world only Tron would recognize.
Content in Context,
the annual (and re-thought-for-digital) conference begun by the
Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) and, in its third year,
joined by the Association of American Publishers School Division (AAP
School), is right in the middle.
week CIC drew its largest audience ever--520 attendees--to DC, a combination of its
traditional audience of learning resource company execs, a
smattering of startups and an increased number of pure technology
Among snippets heard and overheard:
Keynote speaker Fernando Reimers
of the Harvard Graduate School of Education provided an oft-lacking
historical – and global – perspective on progress in education. He noted
that for literacy, “the world, in 1970, was where the U.S. was 150
years ago" and the bar has risen continuously since the United Nations
declared in 1948 that everyone has a "right to be educated" (see the Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
Numbers matter: Reimers pointed out there are almost 609 million kids,
ages five to nine, worldwide. Although a mere three percent live in the
U.S., two-thirds of them are in 20 countries. Market opportunity,
Claudio Sanchez, NPR national education correspondent, keynoted a lunch honoring winners of the Weekly Reader student publishing competition,
and took up the global banner in a different way. When he joined NPR,
he recalled, Sanchez asked to cover immigration stories from time to
time. But as he reported on the demographic shifts in education, he
realized he got his wish: "Everywhere I went, I did stories on
immigrant children and their families."
for technology’s real-world impact in education? Sanchez didn’t
hesitate: “The real future is one that has little to do with bricks and
mortar … It's not Star Trek. It's already here."
The “I” word – innovation – reared its overused head repeatedly, leading BrainPOP’s Din Heiman
to point out during a session that the desire to innovate is not what
drives his team to do so. "We don't go in thinking we're going in to
innovate. It's more the big fear we're going to be left behind."
a frequent contributor to EdSurge, moderated panels at CIC. When he’s
not on the road, he is a consultant, author and veteran analyst of
digital education and consumer technologies. He tweets @FrankCatalano
and consults as Intrinsic Strategy.