Guest Blog by Josef Blumenfeld. This blog first appeared on LinkedIn on January 21st, 2016.
After day 1 of the LearnLaunch conference, I’m struck with the following thoughts:
This year’s conference is even better than last year’s. With 850 people in attendance, the energy is palpable and the networking non-stop. There is a true sense of community and partnership. It’s not surprising that it sold out.
The ongoing question as to which city can claim leadership in the EdTech industry – Boston or San Francisco? – has been answered. With LearnLaunch very much leading the way, virtually all of the major EdTech companies play an active role in driving Boston’s EdTech ecosystem that now encompasses more than 300 local companies. McGraw Hill Education may be the latest high profile leader to announce a partnership with LearnLaunch, but others have also played important roles in past years, and continue to do so.
EdTech is a cornerstone of Boston’s increasing global footprint. Conference participants seemed to hail from all corners of the globe – I heard German, Mandarin, Hebrew, and a host of other languages spoken in the halls. LearnLaunch recently announced a relationship with Ireland’s Versari, enhancing its reach into Europe. Last year, LearnLaunch partnered with Cengage Learning to expand into Latin America. The only international company in LearnLaunch’s current cohort, Cashtivity, chose to locate its US operations in Boston, bypassing California, even as management flies over it from the company’s HQ in Australia.
Investment in EdTech will continue to accelerate. Victor Hu made this point at the opening plenary, and everything else that followed today reflected a favorable view of the investment climate. Investors will need to be patient, however, since the time for innovation to take effect and deliver student success is longer than their typical horizon. It takes time to learn, and the students with the greatest need – where EdTech can deliver the greatest impact – face unique hurdles on an unsteady path. It will take a while, but there is a great deal of money to be made in EdTech.
Most importantly, the innovations on display and being discussed today offer incredible benefits to students, teachers, and educational institutions. From pre-K to K-12 to Higher Ed to lifelong and career learning, EdTech is delivering measurable and meaningful value – at a cost that is accessible and well-worth the investment.
If you haven’t been paying attention to Boston’s EdTech arena, then you’ve been missing a critical and growing success story. In Boston, innovation is in our DNA, and education is in our blood. Said differently, “innovation,” “education,” and “technology” are core elements of Boston’s brand. These are the reasons GE chose to relocate its HQ to Boston (not the relatively small tax breaks), and these were the qualities on full display today at the LearnLaunch conference.
Boston’s booming EdTech industry shows no sign of slowing down. We are fortunate to have a constellation of companies, innovators, universities, investors, disruptors, educators, and big thinkers to breath life into this EdTech ecosystem. And, we are lucky to have LearnLaunch as the champion that brings us all together for a few days.
Tomorrow promises to be as engaging as today was.
If you’re not able to attend the conference, I recommend following #LearnLaunch2016 on Twitter and joining the discussion.
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