There is a drastic change underway in how we buy and use hardware and software in the classroom. This epiphany first came to me last month during our TechForum13 Atlanta App Smackdown session (you can watch the archived footage on our Livestream channel: www.livestream.com/techlearning). For 90 minutes, more than 100 educators and administrators traded favorite apps and Web-based resources, from note-taking to Web site creation to online assessment (the full list can be found here: techlearning.com/events/techforum/atlanta13/program). None of these tools had been handed down from a district central office. They were discovered, downloaded, and paid for by the educators themselves.
One week later, I met with several CEOs of new edtech companies at the SXSWedu conference in Austin, TX. Likewise, these executives aren’t focused on selling their wares first as district-wide contracts to be distributed to the masses. Instead, they are angling directly for faculty. These “new school” edtech vendors want to build a viral following among teachers in the hope that districts will ultimately sign up for a learning platform or digital curriculum in response to grassroots pressure.
I think this phenomenon is great news. For too long, educators have been handed technology and told to use it, much of the time without being shown how. This new app economy destroys that dynamic and instead gives educators the ability to try and decide what is the best tech for them. When they like something, they share it with fellow educators. The more popular the tech gets, the greater the chance it becomes a district standard. It’s all rather elegant. We’ll be tracking this transformation with eagerness. In the meantime, have a favorite app? Let us know!
— Kevin Hogan