Wednesday, December 14, 2011

TIES 2011

I am back from the TIES conference.  Once a year, the people over at TIES put on an educational technology conference that appeals to teachers, administrators, and educational tech staff.

This is actually a pretty broad spectrum audience when you think about it.  They do a good job of finding ideas and presentations for everyone on the list.  In fact, if you can't find an interesting discussion here, you aren't trying very hard.  I highly recommend it if you have a chance to go.

Interesting things I noticed there:

The crowd attending this thing is getting huge!  It used to be very easy to get a seat in the opening keynote talk in the room where the talk is happening.  In fact, you would have a choice of seats.  The last two years, seat choice hasn't been possible and the satellite conference rooms have been used to teleconference in the speaker that was literally just down the hall.

Why so full?  They have been getting in rock star level speakers. I also think this is due to people really needing to know what is happening with the technologies used in education and (finally) getting serious about learning about them.

Interesting trends spotted:

Bring Your Own Devices.  If you were worried about being first to try BYOD, no more worries.  There are several districts that are giving this BYOD trend a go.  There doesn't sound like any real downside to this plan.  Just keep an eye out for the have-not crowd and have a plan to help them out.  Also, the bandwidth of your network might become an issue if it is not robust enough.

(Thinking the networking through, I would be sure to set-up the networks with two different levels of priority... teachers, principals and other presenters who need swift connections because they are presenting get swift connections.  Non-presenters who are not high priority get something more cost-effective.)

Encouraging devices with kids for the same reasons adults would use them.  Keeping life organized, becoming more productive, etc.  I don't know if you remember how complicated middle school was, but it sure isn't getting any easier.  Why not bring the devices?

Google Docs (Google Apps.)  What did we do without these tools?  Look at the apps version for your school or consider yourself committing malpractice.  They are an inexpensive, useful and powerful way to collaborate.  Just what you need for your classroom.  This also makes that Mac vs PC question irrelevant.  Welcome to the post personal computer world.

There are some dinosaurs out there.  One district I heard about is not putting anything on any cloud service for reasons of security.  Really?  My kid's 5th grade writing assignment needs security?  No one is going to die if his work gets out and if we are really worried about him being embarrassed we can set things up so you need a password or a link or both.  Payroll information needs security.  Military planners need security.   Please don't make it hard for Grandma to see my kid's work.  He can use the audience.

Vendors!  There are lots of interesting products out there.  Curriculum too.  I can't help but wonder if the really big future purchases are going to lean towards network tools to get kids online and keep things under control for CIPA.

I would be worried if I were a book publisher with no online plans.  From what I heard and saw, it is very possible to deliver education without buying books.  The new opportunity here is the major cost savings for districts, if everyone is web-connected.  I think it would be interesting to see a few teachers try to run classes without buying books from what is available now.  Literature looks do-able now with Project Gutenberg.

Publishers might want to think about their role.  Instead of developing lessons that will be used for the next textbook cycle, they need to become the curators of what has and is happening in the subject area.  What that looks like and how you profit from that, I don't know.  In my mind, publishing becomes more of a service (like a consultant) and less of a tangible product.

Once again, a fun and educational couple of day at TIES.  Maybe you can be part of the record breaking crowds next December.  Hope to see you there.

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