Traces of Technology in the NASSP’s Ignite 2013 Exhibit Hall

The NASSP’s Ignite 2013 Conference in Washington D.C. provided attendees with a quick glimpse into technology schools can expect to focus future professional development activities.  And, in light of the new Educator Effectiveness and principal evaluation movements, the need to appropriate and utilize technology is more imperative.  This weather vane of movements can be the exhibit hall of national association conventions.  Watching vendors position for the educational dollars is a fickle predictor, albeit an important indicator of who’s clamoring for our attention.  For example, we listen intently when a large publishing company sinks huge amounts of research dollars into online curriculum and has a coming out party to display the latest.  So, what does the exhibit hall look like?

Well, Common Core web-based instructional modules are in abundance. From content literacy to test prep, most companies offer a variety of psychometrics tools.  Dashboards with drill-down capabilities are replacing the static report menus.  What’s impressive is the level to which vendors have thought through the dynamic reporting needs for single user or user groups’ data collection.  And, for customizing the data capabilities, exports lend themselves to numerous formats (Excel, Access, csv, PDF, etc.).  Virtual bookstores signal the rise of electronic materials and are becoming the norm rather than the anomaly.

As a side-look, weaving school security via building security (locks, window treatments, alarm systems) and human ID systems (ID Badges, visitor tracking) into an integrated technology approach is on the increase.  The ability to lockdown buildings is more prevalent in the exhibit hall than in previous shows.

I must confess, I miss seeing technology-based vendors at every turn in the hall, shoving mouse pads in your free bag of trinkets.  I see no major push for data warehousing or mining tools, no companies pushing curriculum delivery systems.  If I were to rate the technology presence within this year’s exhibit hall, I’d conclude that technology is still on the periphery of the education reform act.  I’m confident this will change, sooner than later.

For a complete list of vendors at the NASSP convention, go to http://www.nasspconference.org/exhibits/browse/ and walk through the hall yourself.  Visit the websites and see if you can see a trend.

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