Ed-Tech Companies Spot Trends, Make Connections at Ed. Business Forum

Associate Editor

New York

As K-12 schools continue to adopt technology and integrate it into education, about 200 ed-tech company executives are meeting here for a two-day conference to identify trends, share experiences, and spot opportunities.

Among the topics covered in conversations on Tuesday’s opening of the Education Business Forum include the future of learning management systems, the value of adding students’ interests and preferences to educational technology to support their learning, and new products being introduced into education.

The Education Technology Information Network of the Software & Information Industry Association is sponsoring the event, which draws representatives of companies interested in finding out what’s happening in the market so they can make decisions, partnerships, and investments.

A few highlights from Tuesday’s discussions:

Schools are buying learning management systems, but they’re not using their capabilities. As K-12 schools continue to make major investments in LMSes, teachers tend to use them to replicate long-held paper-based classroom activities, such as posting assignments, and to share copies of materials online, said Wayne Poncia, vice president of Hapara, a company has conducted research in the U.S. and three other countries. “They do not use the learning management system for delivering learning,” said Poncia.

Personalized learning will demand new systems. Educators are looking for new ways to find the content they want, when they need it. The management of content tied to standards and tagged for easy retrieval will be key. “A system that shows a student is struggling, … and that allows the intelligence behind it to bring the right piece of content for that student,” will be essential, said Nader Qaimari, executive vice president and general manager of Follett School Solutions.

Mobile apps’ use in schools is proliferating. Jena Draper, cofounder and CEO of CatchOn, a startup interested in giving districts mobile app intelligence, said she was inspired to launch the company when she found out that 24,000 apps had been downloaded by students in one year at the 1-to-1 computing initiative in one district.

Learning-relationship-management tools are on the horizon. Hundreds of learning management systems on the market act as intermediaries between students and content. Epiphany Learning is one of a small category of new products adding the context of the relationship between the student and teacher, giving educators insights into student interests and preferences as they teach. “Think back to a time when you learned the most: Was it content? Was it curriculum? Or was it human connection?” asked Laura Henderson, Epiphany’s CEO.

Watch this space for more news from the Education Business Forum this week. 


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