The Buzz from TCCA 2017 – Part 1

If you’re in the Southeast Texas area, you may have heard of a growing tech conference in the north Houston area called TCCA. Currently in its 7th year, I’ve attended since year 2, and presented since year 3. This conference holds a special place in my heart, because unlike other conferences, they somehow manage to continue to offer it for FREE, and this year that brought over 4000 attendees.

These people are crazy.

But I LIKE this kind of crazy. It’s educators sharing ideas for the common good of our students, and there’s nothing like being surrounded by 4000 techno geeks to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. But something is notably different this year.

Every year, there’s a buzz about a particular tool or app. Last year was Nearpod’s VR rollout, and the year before was Kahoot. You have your dominant LMS systems (Schoology seems to lead the way around here, although I”m a Canvas girl myself), and various tech gadgetry that ranges from 3D printers, ergonomic desks, and every type of case you can imagine. But it feels like the educational tech market is saturated, and there’s serious app fatigue going on. That might explain why the vendor areas are now filled more with third-party sellers and tiny start-ups. Maybe the power players have figured out that teachers aren’t going to have the funds to shell out for their wares, and have turned their marketing strategies to the administration side. I get it, EdTech vendors. I get it.

But you’re missing something.

We are the people who get excited about your apps. We’re the ones who risk administration’s wrath to download and use your products. We’re the ones who recommend the apps to our fellow teachers, who recommend them to their fellow teachers, and so on. We’re the ones who convince the powers that be that we need you.

The recognizable absence of these vendors bothers me, especially at a conference that boasts such a huge following of tech teachers who sacrifice their Saturday just to come out and learn cool stuff about their tools because WE WANT TO.

But I get it. It’s getting harder and harder to compete in the ed tech market. Marketing funds are scarce, and start-ups fold because they can’t turn a profit. Heck, one of my favorite apps, Tackk, shuttered its business just last month. Another great product that just couldn’t gain the necessary momentum in the ed tech market. Teachers can be fickle; last year’s Nearpod is this year’s FlipGrid.

Much like teachers, you have to stay on your toes, evolve, and change at a moment’s notice.

More to come…

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