Get the details on our 2011 Ed Tech Business Forum, taking place November 28-29, NYC.
Here are 2010 Ed Tech Business Forum Highlights:
- Attendee Roster: check-out the "Sold Out" attendee roster for our 2010 Forum
- Conference Media: thank to LearningTimes for capturing the Forum online
- Future of the Industry: check out the videos created by a group of seasoned executives to provide you with insight on the future of the ed tech industry
SIIA’s Perspective on Open Educational Resources
Tue, 30 Apr 2013 16:04
Last month, SIIA released a Guide to Open Educational Resources (OER) to help inform the field about the benefits, challenges and total costs that must be considered around the funding, development and adoption of educational resources, including OER. Included in the Guide was an SIIA editorial sharing our perspective and public policy recommendations.
SIIA views open educational resources (OER) as one of many appropriate models for the development and distribution of content needed to meet the needs of students and educators. SIIA expects that future educational needs will be addressed by a mix of instructional materials, including OER, and that there is a critical, though perhaps evolving role for commercial partners and proprietary models.
SIIA recognizes that interest in OER among government agencies and education decision makers, as well as many non-profit entities and foundations, appears driven largely by the goals of reducing costs, improving access, providing quality, and supporting educator/student customization of their content. SIIA urges the community of OER investors (e.g., legislators and education officials) and users to consider the following:
- Even in an age of common learning standards, the need to personalize learning will continue to require a robust choice of curricular resources – proprietary and OER – and related technology tools and services. Investments by government authorities or other organizations based on the assumption they can simply ‘build it once’ could inappropriately limit options. No single resource or set of resources will be sufficient to meet the wide range of educational needs.
- The principles of academic freedom and personalization of learning require that government agencies and educational institutions continue to support educational choice. They should not in the future limit the use of funds to only the development/adoption of OER, but instead should continue ensuring grant and other funding for acquisition/implementation of any and all resources that meet the particular educational need, whether OER or proprietary.
- To meet diverse and evolving educational needs, the nation’s education sector demands an environment that encourages R&D investment – public and private, for-profit and non-profit – to ensure ever more innovative and effective resources. Education leaders should strive for a sector that encourages investment and competition, provides resource choice, and rewards innovation.
- Educational resources, including OER, require not only the initial investment, but as importantly must budget for the total, long-term cost of development and use. These ongoing and recurring costs include user training/support, as well as content hosting and maintenance, content updates, and technology updates that, according to some SIIA members, can often require as much as an additional 20% annual cost.
- When making cost-benefit calculations and comparisons, it is important to consider these total initial and ongoing costs of development and adoption. Comparisons require both short-term and long-term factors, as well as recognition of both individual use and systemic impact.
- Institutional, local, or state adoptions of content should use the same review standards, criteria, and process when the content is of the same or similar type – e.g., core, supplemental, etc. – no matter whether OER, commercial or other license.
- To the degree that public funds are invested in the development of (open) educational resources, they are best targeted to address gaps where quality resources are not currently available to meet educational needs. In addition, such public investments should consider the benefits of public-private partnerships or related models that ensure an ongoing user commitment and a recurring revenue stream needed to update, support, and sustain the resource over time.
- To the degree that government funds are invested in the development of OER, those resources should be available through a CC BY license allowing third parties to revise, reuse, remix and redistribute the resource, including commercially. An NC license – prohibiting others from using the work for commercial purposes – would be counter to the public policy goal of leveraging public funds to have the widest impact on innovation, cost-savings, access, and diversity of resources.
SIIA looks forward to working further with all stakeholders to consider the opportunities and challenges of OER and other ways to ensure the availability of ever more choice of innovative and effective resources to meet evolving educational needs. SIIA’s Ed Tech Industry Summit next week in San Francisco will inlcude a panel discussion about OER impact and opportunities for SIIA members that will include the SIIA Guide co-authors and Creative Commons CEO Cathy Casserly.
Mark Schneiderman is Senior Director of Education Policy at SIIA.
10 Reasons Why the Ed Tech Bubble will Continue to Float
Thu, 24 Jan 2013 17:16
Fueled in part by socially-conscious investors and tech entrepreneurs, investment in the educational applications market has exploded to an extent not seen since the dot-com boom more than a decade ago. While some analysts are predicting this is an era of irrational exuberance that could collapse like the bubble burst in 2000, there are at least 10 reasons why this time is different:
- Lower Development Costs: Hardware and software tools have improved and costs lowered, and the savings in application development and delivery means reduced prices and higher marginal revenues. Improvements include simpler and more powerful authoring tools, many of them open source, as well as cloud and other hosted models that enable schools and companies to more easily outsource and scale.
- Apps Market Dynamics: The proliferation of Apps on various mobile devices provides a more welcoming market environment for educational technology companies. Among these factors is the reduced cost of development and distribution on the various mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS and their app stores (though some revenue sharing models do challenge the equation).
- Increased Hardware Access & Connectivity: While a digital divide still exists and too many classrooms still rely on a single computer station, student and teacher access (at home and school) has grown many fold over the last decade. Reasons for this include the reduced cost of hardware (driven by Moore’s law), growing support for BYOD (student’s Bringing their Own Device), and recent investments in tablets, electronic whiteboards and other devices.
- Touch Tablet Ease of Use: Many educators view the touch interface as a game changer for student learning through technology. School (and home) spending bears that out. The platforms provide a simplified user interface for students, a simplified operating system that eases school technical support costs, and a tactile functionality that is both beneficial to younger learners and provides a key pedagogical differentiator from other print and digital mediums.
- Educators Asking How, Not If: Educators have crossed the tipping point from asking “if?” technology to asking “how, how much and what?” While luddites still exist and we are a long way from robust integration and effective use, teachers, administrators and policy makers recognize the upside of technology and digital learning and are focused on how to realize the power and promise.
- The New Normal: Our education system is charged with doing more with less in light of the recent recession and enhanced common, college and career readiness standards. Technology has increased productivity in other sectors, and K12 education is finally looking at technology to supplant and transform, rather than simply to supplement. At the same time, many are leveraging technology for data analytics, customized interventions, and blended learning that shift us from mass-production teaching to the more efficient, mass-customization personalized learning model.
- Educators as Digital Natives: Interestingly, in the past, it has been more veteran teachers that have gravitated to technology than younger teachers who grew up with technology. This is likely starting to change as the technology use by the young teachers and administrators in their personal (and learning) lives is much more prolific in today’s world of mobile apps, virtual communities and online everything. The education workforce is shifting over rapidly post baby-boom generation, and their technology use will follow.
- Digital Native Students: Not much need be said. Students are too often disengaged not by the lack of technology but instead by rote lectures and static text. They understand they must be engaged and challenged, and allowed to explore and personalize their learning. They see how technology supports them outside of school. Educators are responding to their demand to bring that robust learning environment into their curriculum or risk losing too many more students to boredom.
- Expanded Distribution: While the proliferation of channels — technology platforms as well as consumer forums — can be a challenge for developers, these will be outweighed by the benefits. Mobile devices and app stores are increasing access and reducing consumer risk. Formal and informal learning are blending as parents and non-school learning providers gain access to new tools. Teachers are no longer reliant on slow, one-size school or district-wide purchasing decisions, but instead can use a debit account to download a product for just one or a few students. And a number of repositories and social networks are providing single points of information (if not yet a point of sales) for all products (and marketing).
- Parental Advocacy: Increased parental exposure to learning technologies at home is driving their demand for use at school. While parents were sometimes the road block to school board investments, they are more often now leading the charge.
These differences do not imply that every new product and company will succeed. For better or worse, there are probably too many products on the market relative to the number of average users required for product success. Whether investment is all flowing to the right solutions and the right entrepreneurs is still an open question, but it is undeniable that there is growing demand and opportunity for technology in education.
It is also important to note one related potential market challenge — vendor lock-in of content and data. A dynamic market requires minimized barriers to entry such that (school and individual) users are empowered to seamlessly move among existing and new products with minimal risk. SIIA therefore encourages education decision makers and application developers to invest in interoperability. By creating and demanding applications built on common data, content and API standards, information and resources can be more easily shared and exported among any number of proprietary or open applications, thus reducing the risk to educators of a failed product or company. Such standardization is critical for the maturity, and therefore the growth, of the digital learning market, and will ultimately best serve both education and education providers.
These 10 important developments should encourage today’s developers and investors. While the ed tech bubble may not float ever higher, a burst is not likely this time around.
Mark Schneiderman is Senior Director of Education Policy at SIIA. Follow the Education Division on Twitter at @SIIAEducation.
SIIA Announces Innovation Incubator Award Winners
Wed, 28 Nov 2012 20:04
SIIA’s Education Division showcased some of the leading growth companies in the education technology market and recognized the best among them as part of the Innovation Incubator program at the 12th annual Ed Tech Business Forum, held Nov. 26 and 27 at the McGraw Hill Conference Center in New York.
The award winners are:
- Clever received top-votes as Most Innovative and Most Likely to Succeed
- Mathalicious received first runner-up for Most Innovative and Most Likely to Succeed
- Classroom, Inc. has the distinction of receiving the first-ever Educator’s Choice Award
More than 75 applicants were assessed for the Innovation Incubator program on a broad range of criteria, including the education focus, end-user impact, market need for the innovation, representation of K-12/postsecondary market levels, and the level of originality and innovation. Twelve participants and one alternate were selected for the program, and six were elected as finalists in the program.
Other finalists include:
SIIA’s Innovation Incubator program identifies and supports entrepreneurs in their development and distribution of innovative learning technologies. The program began in 2006 and has provided incubation for dozens of successful products and companies in their efforts to improve education through the use of software, digital content and related technologies.
Tracy Carlin is a Communications and Public Policy Intern at SIIA. She is also a first year graduate student at Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture and Technology program where she focuses on intersections in education, video games and gender.