I'm sitting at the Blackboard partner reception at EDUCAUSE in Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market. If you've ever bought the Reading Railroad in Monopoly, then you basically owned this place. Locals will tell you that it isn't pronounced with the long e, like "reading", but instead with a short e like "redding". At any rate, the food is incredible and the wine is not only tasty but much needed after a day of EDUCAUSE insanity.
I'm here with my company, WizIQ, demoing our new iPad app and introducing all sorts of cool new features, but whenever possible, I put on my ZDNet hat and just talk about education with the thousands of people filtering through the trade show. Unlike many of the other ed tech conferences, people here are remarkably focused. In fact, many are here to make decisions between competing products and talk to companies and peers in ways that can be tough when they just get sales people on the phone or visiting their campuses.
Conferences like ISTE are more about education and advancing the pedagogy around education using technology. While there is plenty of talk about teaching in higher ed here, there's a real focus on high-value solutions that address the tech problems of higher ed. Some of the biggies?
- How to increase enrollment
- How to effectively deliver distance education
- How to leverage learning management systems to do more than post assignments and readings
- How to deal with the influx of mobile devices
- How to manage security
- How to decide on increasing data center investments or moving to the cloud
- How to spend exorbitant sums of money to attract customer...
OK, that last one is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I must say that I've already had some great conversations here in just the first day of the trade show portion of EDUCAUSE. Care to have a great conversation? I'll be in Booth 300 quite a bit on Wednesday. Stop by and say hi...I promise I won't try to sell you anything.