I went to the BETT education technology show yesterday to see what new and who is looking to get into the education technology (“edtech”)market.
Edtech is currently the latest sector that investors are flocking to and boy was it evident
Everywhere I looked the big IT companies were there with massive stands and dozens of sales people, all keen and eager to demonstrate how their technology and software are the answers your school or college has been looking for.
The answer to a teacher’s prayers and all designed to make teacher’s life and a head’s life so much easier.
Microsoft alone had 2 huge stands. One with dozens of their Surface PCs in virtual classrooms and all full of teachers being sold the world of future digital education according to Microsoft.
The other one was a “partner campus” where they had brought lots of small companies to the show who use Microsoft technology and co branded them all Microsoft.
But of course the presentation started with the question “who’s got Office 365 in their school?” For those who don’t, unlucky because without it you can’t get access to all this stuff. So is it all about education or is it all about getting a foothold in a huge edtech market that they have been slow to get to?
Over on Google it was the same. Demos of their new education apps and tools every 25 minutes in huge classrooms.
But long established players like RM, who used to have the biggest stand and the most products, are no longer the big players. They are now selling broadband and networking with free content for a school and looked very much 2nd division compared to their past.
But in all this tech, I didn’t really see the kids front and centre. Teachers and heads as buying decision makers and influencers were the people everything was pitched for.
It sermed to me yesterday that big tech just doesn’t get education. They are seeing it as a market with customers just like any other to sell their tech into. They don’t get that the content is as important as the tech and the kids are the real customers.
We will see who the winners and losers are when we get to BETT next January, but for me it’s the kids who will decide what works in the end.