The rapid growth in the number of companies clamoring to do business with schools can be measured in many ways. Here’s yet another: When a leading business association launched a competition to honor what it saw as top products nearly three decades ago, it offered just one education award. In 2014, that same awards program has 28 education categories.
The Software & Information Industry Association, a Washington-based group, recently announced the list of companies who are finalists for those honors, known as the CODiE awards. Education companies are competing for awards issued in an eclectic set of categories—classroom management, curriculum, games, video, and special-needs instruction, to name a few. The finalists (read the full list here) include big industry brands—think Pearson, McGraw-Hill Education, and Blackboard—as well as obscure players with names that will probably leave even those who track the industry closely at a loss.
This year, the association added new awards categories, including “Best Education Cloud-Based Solution,” and tweaked its category for education apps, to reflect the broad changes underway in the K-12 education space, said Karen Billings, the vice president of the education division for the association.
Previously, the association hadn’t focused too much on the “delivery system” for education content, but now it feels compelled to do so, she said.
“It reflects a shift in the industry, and the market, and in the use of tools in the classroom,” Billings said. “Mobile devices and cloud-based systems are so new, [so] people are really focusing on that.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, applications from companies seeking recognition for cloud systems and education apps turned out to be particularly heavy this year, she said.
Those hoping to win in the category of cloud-based systems need to offer a product that is “available to educational users regardless of location, is multi-platform, and provides ubiquitous access to faculty, administration, and students,” among other factors, according the association.
The list of finalists for cloud systems awards is a mix of major names and other trying to carve out a bigger place for themselves:
- Brain Hive (Brain Hive)
- LaunchPad Suite (ClassLink Inc.)
- SpringBoard Digital (College Board, SpringBoard Division)
- Gaggle (Gaggle)
- GuideK12, geovisual analytics (GuideK12)
- JASON Expedition Center; (JASON Project, National Geographic Society)
- Connections Education (Pearson)
- Remote Proctor NOW (Software Secure, Inc.)
Companies judged through the CODieE awards (the name is a play on the word “code,” and the “i” is a nod to information) in K-12 categories are initially scored by educators and administrators, who apply to be judges. The association reviews applicants, Billings said, to try to ensure their interests don’t conflict with their reviews—for instance, making sure they aren’t working as consultants for companies whose products they’re judging.
Finalists are evaluated by representatives of the companies the association represents, she said, with each company getting just one vote. The awards will be announced next month, at the association’s Education Industry Summit.
To be eligible for awards, products needed to have been on the market, meaning up for sale or distribution, by the time the judging began late last year, she said.