This post is part of a series of observations and themes gained from my trip to iste conference in San Diego.
One of the first impressions I gained at iste was purely visual. On entering the expo, all I saw was screens, big, bigger, and well, ginormous. Sure, the big screen education companies were there, SMART and Promethean, with the usual show and tell and touch presentations meant to best highlight the greatest each had to offer. To be expected. And of course there were many other booths promising to leverage SMART or Promethean technology with add-ons, tools, programs, and other whirligigs. What really caught my eye was the pervasiveness of large screens, interactive or otherwise, in nearly every other booth. Shilling textbooks? Look at them on the big screen! School security? Check it out on the big screen. Some didn’t even begin to connect to a visual experience, it was just big-screen marketing, and that’s fine. but does it work? My thought, standing in the middle intersection of the expo was that one might never get close enough to fall into the conversations, pitches, etc that the booth salespeople might hook you in with, because a majority of what the casual educationalist might want to initially know about the product of service can be known from 25 feet away.
Certainly big-screen marketing has been around for a long time, but this is the first expo I have been to for education where I noticed the almost prerequisite screen effect. Does this tell us something about education? Perhaps it suggests that education marketers believe that teachers are big on screens right now. Perhaps it suggests that the SMART-style board has become a mainstream tool. Whatever the message, from what I saw, education specialists had better brace for an even greater pressure from the market to work the screens.
As a post-script, the message was quite different in may of the sessions I attended. The presenters seemed far more interested in the smaller screens (iPads, iPods, Smartphones). So, in that case, perhaps we are seeing a lag in the market’s understanding of what teachers use, or perhaps it just comes down to leveraging an effective advertising media. I welcome further comment.
Gary Stager wrote an outstanding piece on the wisdom of spending money on IWB technology, which deserves a look: http://www.techlearning.com/default.aspx?tabid=67&entryid=681
Next: Social Media Makeover at ISTE