The recent TIES 2011 Conference in Minnesota is the state’s largest K-12 educational technology conference, with a record-breaking 3100 educators in attendance this year. This year, in particular, attendance and session data offer a great lens for looking at current trends in K-12 education. Here are two views on the data.
TIES 2011 Weighted Wordle
Below is a weighted Wordle using all the words in the conference breakout session titles. I built a data set from every session title, adjusted similar terms, and removed obvious terms like “education,” “technology,” and “students.” For each breakout session at TIES 2011, conference participants could mark whether they planned to attend the session. While not exact, of course, this number of planned attendees correlates nicely with attendance. I used that information to create a basic weighting formula then ran a Wordle on the resultant word base. This Wordle shows the words used in the breakout session titles weighted by session attendance. (Click on the image to see the full-size Wordle).
Top Ten Breakout Sessions
I also ran a quick tally on the top ten sessions at TIES 2011, based on expressed participant interest. Here are those results:
- 50 Sites in 50 Minutes (253)
- What Can’t You Do with the iPad/iPod Touch in the Classroom? (204)
- Student-Centered Learning with iPad Apps (174)
- How to Teach with an iPad (174)
- 30 Engaging Web 2.0 Classroom Tools (164)
- Extreme Google Makeover: School Edition (163)
- iTouch, iLearn Using iPad in the Elementary Classroom (152)
- A Few of My Favorite (Elementary Technology) Things (137)
- The Web 2.0 You Might Not Know About (135)
- Deploying and Managing iPad in a 1-to 1-Initiative (133)
The thing that jumps out, of course, is that you should buy Apple stock today. The iPad is smoldering hot in K-12 education. In the Wordle, it dwarfs the competition. The top ten list from TIES 2011 reflects this as well: five of the top ten sessions center on the iPad. Also of note is the lack of competition. The Xoom, Chromebook, and Kindle are nowhere to be seen.
Another big winner is Google, mainly reflecting the number of sessions and interest in Google Apps in education. While only one of the top ten sessions focuses on the term, four of the top twenty were about Google products. Simply put: if your district hasn’t moved to Google Apps, it should.
A third obvious trend is a more general emphasis on elements of the Web 2.0’s influence on education. Terms like “community,” “interactive,” “tools,” “online,” “web,” and “digital” reflect a growing interest from educators in infusing digital and blended resources into their classrooms. Four of the top ten sessions focus on general web tools and websites.
Other Wordle appearances that strike me as interesting: reading, fluency, literacy, Moodle, video, flipped, and development.
Although data isn’t available from past years to identify trends, it’s interesting to note what’s not there, or is relatively small. If you’ve been to the conference in recent years, you’ll remember the overwhelming number of sessions on podcasting and SmartBoards. This year is different. “Podcast” shows up nowhere. It’s gone, perhaps replaced by video? And you can’t be happy with the data if you’re making SmartBoards. The threat of the iPad, which gives interactive-board-like functionality to every student who has one, is real and coming strong. While the term “Smart” shows up in the Wordle at a moderate size, none of the top twenty sessions were about interactive white boards.
Lastly, the recent trend from textbook publishers to emphasize digital versions of their books makes sense when you consider that although the term “Textbooks” shows up in the Wordle, the session that got it there was a session talking about replacing textbooks with ebooks.
I’m hopeful that TIES will use a similar system for TIES 2012, as it’ll be interesting to see how things change over time.
As always, feel free to disagree, agree, and add your own comments and observations.