eTech Ohio

I just returned from the eTech Ohio annual conference, where I was a featured (not keynote) speaker. My talk was fairly well attended given that it occurred during the lunch slot, although nothing compared to the overflow attendance of the morning’s keynote speaker, Ray Kurzweil, who I’ve admired since my days of studying artificial intelligence. The conference was extremely well run, the staff was very helpful and the exhibitor floor was large (maybe half the size of Educause). I saw Wimba on the floor and stopped by the Blackboard booth but nobody was there.

eTech Ohio is government agency that supports K-12 technology. In addition to running one of the largest educational technology conferences in the Midwest (over 6000 attendees and an exhibitor floor that looks about half the size of Educause, actually), they partner with their higher education counterpart, the Ohio Learning Network, which has helped a number of Ohio schools run Sakai pilots. The partnership between eTech and OLN has recently taken form in, among other things, the Open Learning Partnership Ohio. Check them out.

I gave a different version of my usual Sakai talk, arguing that the time is now for K-12 to be looking at open source solutions (for software and content). The main points were:

  • Parents and students and teachers are increasingly expecting technology that is present in Courseware Management Systems like Sakai.
  • Open source solutions are ready for prime time.
  • The current economic cycle means government budgets will be squeezed and finding ways to save money are especially important.
  • The higher education CMS vendors are coming and that means the conversations about choosing a system will be happening soon (if they aren’t already)
  • Because of it’s mission, educational institutions, especially public ones, should be adopting open source solutions whenever possible. Especially for teaching and learning related solutions.

This last point isn’t something that generally appears in my higher education talks. I emphasized it a bit more for this audience because I think its applicability is greater in K-12, mainly because the overwhelming majority of K-12 schools are public and free and concerned with equal access (and have been plagued by inequality due to the way schools are funded in the US).

In any case, I’ve attached a .pdf of my slides if you’re interested (with speaker notes, as I’m trying to reduce the amount of words on my slides these days). I’d love to hear your feedback…

eTech Slide Image (approx 5.3 megabytes)

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One Response

  1. People might also be interested to know that rSmart and IBM have partnered to provide eTech Ohio and the institutions it serves with deployment services as well as on-going support for their CLE pilots and eventual enterprise level deployments.

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