EDUCAUSE 08 was the conference of the cloud and the looming budget crisis. I'm wondering what new narrative will emerge after this week in Denver.
Some contenders (and I'm looking forward to hearing your candidates):
1. The Back Channel Triumphant: Looking at the action on #educause09 offers clues to how attendees will tweet the conference. When will we hit a tipping point where the majority of conference related conversation moves to the digital world? Maybe some will estimate this and give a presentation in 2010. And what does all this micro blogging and macro blogging and Facebooking tell us about learning and collaborating at our own institutions? I think you know the answer to that one.
2. Publisher Dreams: No industry has blown the opportunities presented by digital academia (ubiquitous fast networks, online applications, 100% student computer penetration etc. etc.) more then the publishers. If the 3 big publishers have a strategy beyond slapping web sites on to textbooks or creating half-baked course cartridges (and then charging students prices that would make Tony Soprano blush) then I'm all ears. Why the publishers did not buy into the LMS market years ago (yes, I know about Pearson and eCollege) in any significant way I'll never understand. What could publishers do to remain relevant in an era of abundant content, digital curriculum, e-books, and a realization by educators that better courses mean less content and more student collaboration and authoring? No clue. I hope that Pearson has the goods. I doubt it. Check out this tweet from Pearson on 10/29: "Just a few days until our huge announcement at #EDUCAUSE! Press briefing at 9:30 am on 11/4, Room 407 at Convention Center #EDUCAUSE09
3. Moodle Love: I predict that a bus load of decision makes will leave Denver determined to make the switch to Moodle. They will have heard good things, will feel confident that there is both an established user community and a stable vendor ecosystem, will run the numbers and be ready to make the jump. I hope that Blackboard understands just how critical it is that they flood the zone with people who can have authentic conversations with as many existing customers as possible in Denver. And by authentic, I mean a willingness to share the roadmap and offer full transparency around the development and support resources available. I think Blackboard does have a compelling value proposition - but I think the company has done a poor job of communicating this proposition to the community. Blackboard needs to get in this conversation, or the rate of Moodle defections will be faster then past performance would predict.
4. The SIS Gets Ambitious: Student Information Systems (SIS) - think Datatel, Banner, PeopleSoft (Oracle) get lots of the money but almost none of the glory. The SIS is essential. The LMS would be pretty useless it integrated with the SIS. So why can't the SIS bypass the LMS by offering core functionality (grade book, testing, drop/add etc.) and a rich set of integration points for the Web 2.0 social learning tools (blogs, wikis, social networks etc.) that everyone wants to use anyway? Or simply bake Moodle deeply into the SIS, and offer both under one contract? Why should schools buy and support two systems when one will work better?
5. Techsmith Gets the Buzz: I predict that this year's most buzzed about vendor will be Techsmith, owing to its simple and affordable lecture capture and authoring tool Camtasia Relay. Owing to H1N1, the motivation to have lecture capture solutions in place has moved from a want to a need. The lecture capture market is fragmented and competitive, but only Techsmith offers a solution that is inexpensive enough to scale and simple enough to easily roll-out. Expect the Techsmith booth to be over run. (Full disclosure, I'm managing the Techsmith Relay roll-out on my campus, so I'm a bit biased).
What do you expect to be the meta-stories coming out of EDUCAUSE 09?
Will the stories of the cloud (possibilities) and the recession (just depressing) be replaced by something new, or will these twin narratives continue to dominate?
Which vendor do you expect to break out?
Which sessions and/or featured speakers will surprise and delight us?
And will the Wi-Fi network be robust enough to deal with all the tweeting?
See you all in Denver.