LearnLaunch recently held their 6th “Across Boundaries” conference at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. Originally held in a large lecture hall at MIT (I was there!), it has grown to 1100+ participants that draws interest on a national and even international scale (this year featured an “international pitch session” with EdTech start-ups from abroad participating). A wide variety of educators, education administrators, entrepreneurs, investor, education companies and technology innovators all come together due to the shared interest in driving innovation to transform learning and increase achievement using digital technologies.
One difference this year, and one that I believe validates the opportunity in the marketplace, is that there was a specific “Workforce Path” option. In the past, the only two real delineations was K-12 and Higher Ed. It was great to see multiple panel sessions dedicated to Adult Learners pursuing learning opportunities outside of the traditional Higher Education system. Some panels, like “Pathways for Workforce Development”, tackled issues such as how career/technical education programs, high school innovation pathways, workforce investment boards, community colleges and employers are building pipelines of new employees via internships and other methods.
Another panel, “Skills Development for Adults”, (with Penn Foster’s Chief Outcomes Officer Dara Warn participating) helped participants develop an understanding of the support services that adults might require when pursing alternative Education pathways. In a sign of how the EdTech market and Education sector is evolving, several sessions dealt with topics that were hot 3 years ago but seem to have dropped off the radar (“what ever happened to Freemium models”?). In a sign of things to come, Blockchain technology was explored with its potential to revolutionize credentialing, transcript sharing and digital learning records.
The other notable “newbie” on the block was “Virtual Reality”. Perhaps in the future we will be able to save on travel costs and simply don our VR headsets and use the technology to collaborate on how technology is changing the face of Education!