Higher Education

Educomm and the ed tech market

You probably know about Educomm. It’s an annual conference put on by University Business Magazine coming up in June in Las Vegas. It’s one of these conferences where you get industry, administrators, IT professionals, and faculty all in relative proximity to one another.

To me, conferences like this are of interest for a couple of reasons:

  • you get to find out where industry people seem to be going
  • you can tap into the national-institutional discourse of educational IT
  • and most importantly you get a sense of how this market intersects with your campus.

This conference actually looks pretty interesting. If I had the money and my wife wouldn’t totally kill me for running off to yet another conference, I might consider going. Of course I’m interested in these institutional narratives about how technology practices are developed.

Most academics object on principle to the way in which curriculum, pedagogy, and general college policy seems to get driven by larger market forces. It’s one thing is college’s evolve over a generation to address the shift toward an information economy. It’s another thing if classroom pedagogy is directly shaped by the way a company like Blackboard tries to shut out competitors with patents or if a particular piece of enterprise software dictates how curriculum might be constructed or if we have our courses turn tricks for a particular product line b/c they provide us with free stuff.

It’s often in our nature to imagine the worst of others, but if you go to a conference like this one you have a chance to see some aspects of how these things actually work. Obviously not everyone is a saint, but it’s also misleading to be wholly cynical about such matters.

The real task here is to get an understanding of educational technology so that you can be an informed participant in decision-making in a department or campus or whatever. Because one thing is certain: "decisions will be made" by some absent invisible hand/actor.

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