Dispatch from FETC 2022
The new normal of trade shows, following the money, and other various EdTech scuttlebutt
Dateline: Orange County Convention Center—And we’re back! Well, sort of. Walking onto the FETC trade show floor was just another exercise in existential angst. Look at all the people! Wait, is this a lot of people? Do we hug, shake hands or just trade knucks? Mask or no mask? Attendee numbers are elusive but let’s just say there is a quorum. Sessions have been canceled and some sessions are crowded. No hybrid nonsense here. Maybe it’s true what they say that there’s no COVID in Florida.
FETC has listed more than 400 sessions and workshops in five distinct tracks: Future of EdTech Administrator, Future of Ed Tech Educator, Future of Ed Tech Information Technology, Future of Ed Tech Coach and Future of Ed Tech Library Media Specialist. Keynote speakers include one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between happiness and success, Shawn Achor, as the opening keynoter, and Faculty Associate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, Primavera De Filippi, as the STEM keynoter.
Despite the surreal details, it’s great to be back mixing it up in person. I’m rather astounded how the edtech industry has not only survived but continues to thrive through all this madness. A quick survey of the trade show floor shows that vendors are ready to get back to business. Questions remain about how educators can indulge in professional development workshops and implement “next generation 21st century tools” when they are struggling to just keep kids in class.
There is also a sense of anticipation. First, for all of this pandemic business to end. Second, for districts to start spending recovery funds. John Harrington, CEO of Funds for Learning, hosted a session devoted to following that money. Along with virtual contributions from Sheryl Abshire, Former CTO Calcasieu Parish Public Schools (LA) and Jon Bernstein, President Bernstein Strategy Group, he broke down the gaudy numbers—I was reminded of Carl Sagan’s billions and billions—and what schools need to do to secure it.
On Tuesday, The Federal Communications Commission announced that it is committing $240,888,016 in its eighth wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund program support. The funding commitments will support over 600,000 students and provide funding for 693 schools, 55 libraries and 8 consortia in 49 states, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the District of Columbia. The institutions are approved to receive nearly 683,000 connected devices and 182,000 broadband connections.
Since its June 2021 launch, the program has committed over $4.4 billion supporting all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the District of Columbia. “In a little over six months, this program has helped over 12 million students across the nation get the digital tools they need to connect with teachers and online educational resources,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “This program is an important part of closing the Homework Gap, and connecting library patrons across the country.”
The funding can be used to support off-campus learning, such as nightly homework, to ensure students across the country have the necessary support to keep up with their education. Total commitments to date are supporting over 10,500 schools, 860 libraries, and nearly 120 consortia for nearly 9.6 million connected devices and nearly 4.9 million broadband connections.
Sounds great right? Definitely easier spent than done correctly. Considering the current hybrid chaos and the harsh reality of continuing learning loss, it will be a while before these monies will bring schools back to “normal,” whatever that means.
Some other news making its way around FETC:
PowerSchool (NYSE: PWSC), has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Kinvolved, a leading provider of K-12 communications, attendance, and engagement solutions supporting over 250,000 students and used within three of the top four school districts in the U.S. Adding Kinvolved’s communication engine to PowerSchool’s Unified Home solution will enable schools and districts to strengthen and simplify overall communications and notifications between school and home to increase engagement and help reduce absenteeism.
Trox + Tierney changed its name to Bluum beginning today. The announcement is the first step in a phased rebrand, which includes the launch of a new e-Commerce site this spring. While the Bluum brand will serve its education customers, the company also introduced the Bluum Technology brand to continue to develop its existing business and government customer base.
The "EdTech Market - Global Outlook & Forecast 2022-2027" was released today. The EdTech market size was valued at USD 254.80 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach USD 605.40 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 15.52% during the forecast period.
The market for hardware products is growing owing to increases in the use of interactive whiteboards and simulation-based learning hardware. The presence of these display boards is witnessed across the globe and is widely accepted to display content, images, and video. This is driving the smart classroom market across the globe.
Despite technology disruption, the demand for K-12 is expected to strongly be supported by the government policies mainly fulfilling the national priorities. The data-rich ecosystem will enable to capture of data for learning activities. The integrated technology benefits are expected to offer significant benefits to schools and enhance the outcomes of the users in the market.
Back to the show floor and then hopefully some cheese cubes and cheap Merlot at a few receptions tonight. Hope I remember how to schmooze!