Over the next week or so, tens of thousands of educators will descend on London and Orlando on a quest to discover what’s new in edtech. And thousands of vendors will be in their booths, starting today at The BETT Show, Sunday at FETC1, eager to show it to them.
At each conference/expo, attendees will also flock to sessions about the latest in software, hardware, apps, and extensions, with presenters offering “solutions” to whatever problem they might have. Plus tips, tricks, tools, hidden features, and more little bits of technology that you must have.
Both huge events represent one major reason why edtech has been largely ineffective, using multiple definitions of that term.
Like the tech industry in general, we in education embrace the promise of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the other “cutting edge” concepts that we are told will revolutionize the learning process, and the world in general, with far too little questioning.
I’m not saying we should never be curious about new stuff. Or ignore the possibilities that come with the development of new technology products.
However, when wandering the glittery sales floor of conferences like BETT and FETC (plus ISTE and any number of state and local edtech-related events) we need to dial back on the gee-whiz and ask some tough questions.
Like if claims for their products are backed by research. Or get the marketing people to talk about their privacy policies. Is any of the student data collected shared with other companies? Who are your investors?
I’m betting that last one will get you some funny looks. But we deserve to know the people in the background who may be more concerned with something other than student learning.
Anyway, as you go questing for the new, also indulge in some good old fashioned research before you adopt any of it.
Indiana Jones, of course, is an archaeologist looking for old stuff. But if you think about it, he was on a quest for new stuff to put in museums that were already packed with relics.
1. BETT, formerly known as the British Educational Training and Technology Show before being shortened to just the initials, will attract around 35,000 people. FETC, which was the Florida Educational Technology Conference before being bought by a “media group” and rebranded as the Future of Education Technology Conference. They will likely have around 10,000 in attendance.