Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Opinionated notes from the NYC Ed Tech Meetup

Context: A friend asked for highlights from the NYC Ed Tech meetup that happend earlier today, so I decided to make it into a blog post.

Tonight's meetup at Knewton was great! Here are highlights, in decreasing order of how much I like them:

  • Dr. Bruce Wexler of C8 Sciences is a genius. His startup product, C8Kids, is a cognitive training web app along the lines of Lumosity, but way more sophisticated, more complete, and with better teacher interfaces for working with classes of students. It helps people make better decisions to help all kids, but especially kids with special needs, which is really cool. Not only is the project incredible, but Dr. Wexler was CONSISTENTLY the most articulate speaker, saying the right things at the right times and passing the mic when that was more appropriate. Lumosity should really just give their stacks of venture capital to C8 Sciences.
    • Disclaimer: I have not actually used C8Kids, but it seems really great.
    • Dr. Wexler also pointed me to BrainWare Safari, which has a kind of similar product but seems to be behind both C8Kids and Lumosity. Disclaimer again: I haven't tried it either.
    • Dr. Wexler also mentioned ESCoNS2, the second meeting of the Entertainment Software and Cognitive Neurotherapeutics Society, which is happening in March in LA and has perhaps the most hippified web site I've seen in a while.
  • Josh Baron from Marist (go raptors!) has done cool open source work using predictive modeling to identify students for interventions.
    • Sakai is some sort of open source SIS/LMS thing. It seems like it could be good. I don't know. These sort of things have a tendency to get bloated. But: open source!
    • Pentaho is some sort of open source business intelligence analytics thing. Maybe good?
    • I had never even heard of PMML, the Predictive Model Markup Language. It is super cool that such a thing exists! At least in spirit, I'm totally in favor.
    • OAAI is the Open Academic Analytics Initiative, which is maybe what all this is about. It's apparently their model which is supposed to be released in PMML, but I sure don't see it. I didn't search that long, either.
    • Apparently there's some open source project called "Student Success Plan" but their web site is down. Possibly cool?
  • The NYC Schools Gap App Challenge was totally in the house!
  • I learned about things from people around me:
    • Adium is apparently a chat client that some people use.
    • Notability seems to be a very good iPad app for taking notes stylus-style.
    • Most of Knewton's code is Java, it seems. Gross.
  • Some IBM talk. connectedEDU, desire2learn, looking like you're wearing a three-piece suit even when you're not, blah blah blah. Okay there was some good message in there somewhere about united disparate data systems so that user experience is positive and the end result is good for kids, but mostly I wasn't feeling the corporate vibe and I started writing snarky tweets:
    • tweet: "Bad metaphors are the new oil."#EdTechNYC Oh - also data. I hear it's a growth industry. Also, perhaps, education is good for children?
    • tweet: Learning at #EdTechNYC: if you say "next chart" every 20 seconds through your presentation, you sound like an IBMer from the 1980s.
    • Also somebody else tweeted about problems with a big IBM ed tech project, which sounded about par for the course: CALPADS 'in danger of failure'
Okay! So that was it! Pretty good! Thanks for the space and drinks, Knewton, but next time please provide plates to carry snacks on - I can't stand right by the snack table all the time! Important issue!

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