As the ISTE 2016 conference was winding down yesterday I took one last long walk through the vendor hall. I went up and down every aisle of the expo and at the end I published my summary of the vendor hall in this Tweet:
#ISTE2016 vendor floor summary: data, maker, VR, Google, damage control.
— Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) June 29, 2016
Now to expand on those points in my Tweet:
1. I counted no less than ten companies offering student data collection and analysis tools. That only accounts for the companies focused entirely on that service. There are many, many other companies touting data collection and analysis as part of a larger service. Those booths seemed to be occupied by school administrators. I didn’t see many teachers hanging around those booths.
2. Maker spaces and the Maker movement were all over the ISTE program. The conference program had plenty of workshops and presentations on topics related to the maker movement. There were playground areas set up for people to learn about 3D printers, robotics, and programming. In the vendor hall nearly every 3D printer company and robotics kits company had booths swarming with activity.
3. Google and Samsung had dueling booths featuring virtual reality headsets. I had many discussions with conference goers about virtual reality. The consensus seems to be that we’re all fascinated with the possibilities but have concerns about the scalability an long-term use of virtual reality in classrooms.
4. Google, Google, Google. They made some big announcements this week about Forms, Cardboard Expeditions, a new screen sharing app, and an “apps bundling” scheme to sell sets of Chrome apps. Their booth was packed every time that I went into the vendor hall. It was interesting to see many other vendors standing around watching the Google presentations.
5. Damage control products were prominently displayed throughout the ISTE vendor hall. You could find a protective case for just about every tablet, Chromebook, phone, and laptop imaginable. There were also plenty of companies selling network monitoring software and web filtering products designed to protect your school network and or block access to websites.