Mobile and Cloud Technologies in Education – Tech in BC is Flourishing

Written by: Jordan Tinney

Published On: March 9th 2012

I was very fortunate to get an invite to the BC Technology Industry Association showcase this week. I was so proud of what I saw being produced in BC. For what was designed as a business showcase, what we saw had direct and immediate opportunities for education. The Showcase was a series of 6 minute demos followed by opportunities to meet with the developers individually at their displays. The focus was mobile technologies and their implications for industry. I also found myself wondering throughout their presentations about what opportunities there were for our secondary students to be involved in work experiences or dual credit opportunities in our high tech industry right here at home. Here are some highlights and the thoughts I had about applications for our schools or districts:

Aprio – an electronic board information and governance system which appeared to seamlessly integrate with mobile technologies like iPads and to provide the system security and functionality to support a diversity of board and committee structures. Aprio also has security that allows the system to limit/restrict the participation on committees and agendas in a variety of ways so that normal partners and stakeholders could easily be incorporated into the system without compromising security of private board materials. APrio also suggested that their system could be very useful for district executive teams as a way to manage documents and agendas for a variety of meetings.

Colligo – designing a way to integrate everyday email and document management functions on devices such as smartphones and the iPad with Sharepoint services. In their very quick demo, they showed an iPad gathering emails and dropping documents into a company’s Sharepoint system and structure. Working in collaboration with companies such as Conquer Mobile, they have an iPad app that accesses Sharepoint services and allows for the direct storage and retrieval of documents to Sharepoint via smart devices. “Colligo drives SharePoint adoption by making it easy to tag, find, store, and share SharePoint content in familiar ways, regardless of device, connectivity, or SharePoint location.”

Mediacore – The demonstration of your own “in-house” YouTube channels had tons of possibilities for educational organizations. From targeted teacher pro-d, to video tutorials of routine system tasks, to ways to capture, store and retrieve instructional videos for students. I can’t say it better than they did: “Our vision is to help organizations all over the world create incredible video-based learning experiences that increase the retention, engagement, and pace at which anyone can learn online. MediaCore enables organizations to launch, manage, and control their own educational video site that can be shared publicly or privately across desktop browsers and mobile phones to audiences anywhere in the world.”

Partnerpedia – ever wonder how to manage app and software distribution? This online service allows IT to control the distribution and management of approved software apps or licenses more effectively than traditional methods. Very easy to use and designed specifically for tablets and smart devices.

SayZu – you’re sitting in a conference following a hash tag twitter feed, or you want to know what are the main issues truly being discussed/mentioned on a thread like #BCED. SayZu allows for a graphical analysis of the reams of data that comes over twitter. In the breakout, I asked them to analyze #bcedplan. In less than 30 seconds they represented the main topics being discussed *live* in a wordle-like format. Simple, effective, wading through the barrage of data and cutting to the chase. Impressive.

Wifarer – what was presented as an indoor GPS/information system really has neat implications for education. Imagine showing students how to navigate through a structure where they could stop at any given point and gather more info with a click. The demo was of a shopping mall where the user was looking for a particular store but, en route, they also had the opportunity to visit several “information” stops along the way. The info stops could be documents, Internet links or video clips. Now transfer that concept to a “video walk through” of a museum, garden, historic site, or other educational opportunity and Wifarer has lots of potential. Even with an analytic function of who stops where and for how long, this could really be an interesting way to turn a routine field trip into something unique and lasting. Particular applications to me were for gardens and sustainability initiatives where content could be provided by stopping at specific locations and further lesson plans or information could be provided.

The tools above really could be of use to districts or schools. The fact that they are products Made In BC is a bonus. So this post really is just to share the experience and point out some talent that exists at our door. I hope that it is useful and that you do indeed take a look at the tools. Perhaps a chance to use local resources and even, in the right circumstances, to partner up with some students. I did ask how many of the presenters were BC students, the answer was all but one which again shows that we’re doing a great job in BC schools.