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EDUCAUSE Day #1 Observations
October 20, 2011 - 3:00am

Looking forward to hearing your take-aways and observations from EDUCAUSE.

A few un-filtered reactions from day 1:

Godin's Keynote: I'm of two minds on Seth Godin's keynote, "Invisible or Remarkable?"  The keynote was hugely enjoyable.  Godin, if nothing else, offers all of us an example of how we should present and communicate.  Lots of slides with evocative images, set to a story-telling type narrative.  Godin compared higher ed to the music industry, making the point that today lots of artists record songs and people go to concerts, but the music publishers and record stores have been disrupted and destroyed.  Higher ed, like the music industry, was a "perfect" business for many years, and like the music industry the "higher ed industrial complex" will eventually be eliminated, to be replaced with the "impossible." All good stuff, but I always come away from Godin's books and speeches with the feeling that there is less to message than meets at the eye. I would have liked Godin to do some serious homework on higher ed and educational technology, and focus his thinking around the debates and discussions we have each day.  What did you think of Godin's keynote?

The Exhibit Hall:  With over 260 companies giving demos and showing off their products and solutions, the Exhibit Hall is intense, jam packed and exciting.  I could spend the whole EDUCAUSE conference at the Exhibit Hall, and still not learn everything there is to learn about the ed tech ecosystem.  My only complaint about the Exhibit Hall is the, at times, overly solicitous folks working the booths. I would rather approach a vendor representative and let them know if I have a question or would like to try something out, rather than be approached as I look at the booth. Many times I'm in the info gathering mode, and am not ready to have a conversation.  I'm sure that there exists an optimal etiquette for company reps at booths that is friendly and welcoming, but does not encroach on the attendee who may not want to engage quite yet. Most have not found this optimum balance. Does this mirror your experience, or am I just too anti-social?

Blackboard and Pearson's OpenClass: We could say lots about Blackboard and Pearson's OpenClass, the two LMS vendors that so far have captured most of my attention (I plan to expand my LMS scope on day 2). In meeting with Blackboard, I have to say that a major positive is that the company is run by experienced, calm, no-nonsense professionals.  Ray Henderson and his team give me confidence that the company, or at least the Learn division that I know best, is well run.  On the Pearson OpenClass side, I remain excited about the potential for a free, cloud-based LMS. However, I remain cautious and guarded in my enthusiasm for OpenClass, as I worry that Pearson is in danger of over-promising on the comparative benefits of the platform, and over-selling the impact that it will have. Perhaps I would have felt better if Pearson had broken the OpenClass division out-of the Pearson team, analogous to what Microsoft did with the X-Box group.  I do think that OpenClass is a very good thing for our industry, and will push the other LMS providers in terms of service, features and price - and I hope that Pearson proves my skepticism unwarranted. Thoughts?

Microsoft:  The only thing I want to say about Microsoft is to express the hope the EDUCAUSE 2012 includes an XBOX 360 team showing off next generation immersive education games and apps.  Microsoft has the potential to disrupt learning from the gaming side, and I hope that the company invests the necessary resources and passion to meet the potential of gaming in education.

EDUCAUSE is the most intense (and wonderful) few days that I could imagine in our business.  It is a privilege to be here in Philadelphia with so many passionate and smart educators (from schools to companies).

What are your EDUCAUSE take-aways so far?

 

 

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