With the biggest crowd ever, the mood at EdNet was much different than last year. There were lots of start-ups and more funders and investment bankers than ever. The agenda was all about digital learning (we may finally be moving past thinking about EdTech on the periphery and thinking about digital learning as the core). The combination of federal, foundation, and private investment is going to make the next decade a rich period of edu-innovation.

Compared to the Education Industry Association meeting in NOLA where there was a good deal of concern about the future of SES with the upcoming ESEA reauthorization, EdNet was upbeat with ARRA possibilities in the air. Jim Shelton kicked off the conference with a thoughtful review of the opportunity in front of us.

Perhaps it was the unusually nice September weather, but I was also reminded that Chicago is a great city with spectacular public spaces. Michigan Avenue shopping, downtown restaurants, and jazz clubs rival the best in the world (ok, like a solid 5th or 6th on the list). I hope they get the Olympics—they’re certainly making a strong bid and letting everyone that passes through know about it.

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Tom Vander Ark is author of Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, The Power of Place, Better Together, Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and Learn Capital and serves on the boards of Education Board Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, Mastery Transcript Consortium and eduInnovation. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.


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