These Are the Biggest EdTech Conferences By Attendance and Program
By Henry Kronk
December 03, 2019
Many education and edtech stakeholders plan their years around the conferences they hope to attend. Some of these are general catch-all events. Others focus on specific education niches. Nearly all promote themselves as leaders, among the most popular, and preeminent in the field of edtech and education conferences. Of course, leadership comes in many different sizes and varieties. Still, we’re using this article as an opportunity to introduce the rubber to the road. Below, we’ve broken down upcoming edtech conferences by published size and number of sessions when available.
The Biggest Edtech Conferences
The British Education Technology and Trade show remains the biggest edtech conference in the world. For the upcoming BETT 2020, which will occur between January 22 – 25, the conference expects to draw over 34,000 attendees. At this size, BETT is far and away the biggest edtech conference. It’s more than twice as big as the runner up.
What’s more, this year it was announced that the Education Show, another U.K. education event, would happen within the conference, swelling the ranks even further.
BETT does not publish figures for numbers of sessions—possibly because there are so many different events, talks, and how-tos. Besides a massive exhibition floor, the BETT program also features a leadership series, seminars, professional development courses, an awards show, and many other speakers.
Roughly 16,500 individuals traveled to Philadelphia this fall to attend ISTE 2019. That’s down from 18,500 in Chicago the previous year, but still easily makes the conference the second-most popular in the education sector. The conference featured a total of 1,900 sessions.
That might be expected from the organization that has authored possibly the most definitive and authoritative set of edtech teaching standards.
The International Society for Technology in Education has a specific edtech flavor. ISTE 2020 will go down in Anaheim, Calif. between June 28 and July 1.
Last year, 12,927 individuals flocked to Austin, Texas for SXSW EDU in 2019. The event featured 1,202 speakers and 492 sessions in total. (The conference has more great data here.) Similar to the other popular conferences mentioned above, SXSW EDU draws a strong mix of education stakeholders, non-profit orgs, and industry. 44% were practitioners or administrators, while business and industry represented 30% and non-profits came in at 20%.
The follow up event in 2020 will mark SXSW EDU’s 10-year anniversary. It will occur between March 9-12.
The Future of Education Technology Conference is celebrating it’s 40th year in Miami, Fla. This January. More than 10,000 individuals attended the 600+ sessions at the 39th edition.
Like many of the other conferences listed above and below, this conference focuses on education technology. As such, it appeals to a wide slice of education stakeholders.
TASA Midwinter Conference
The Texas Association of School Administrators Midwinter Conference might seem too specific for this list. It nevertheless expects to welcome 6,000 attendees in Austin between January 26-29. The event will feature 244 sessions. While there will certainly be some edtech involved, the event is catered primarily to administrators.
EDUCAUSE has a stated goal to “advance education through information technology.” That puts this event squarely in our bullseye, but it also means that some education issues take a backseat to IT. We’re not entirely sure where to place this conference on our list. Some attendees have claimed the event brought together north of 8,000 in 2018. But the org itself expects 4,000 or so to be in attendance in Boston from October 26-29 in 2020.
Spring CUE has been running for over 40 years and lays claim to being the “longest-running, largest annual event on the West Coast,” presumably in the edtech arena. The event expects over 5,000 attendees in Palm Springs this March 19-21.
Who would have thought in 2010 that a public university and a venture capital fund would come together to put on one of the most important edtech events? The event, now going into its eleventh iteration, has featured world leaders, government cabinet members, and Grammy and Oscar winners. But more importantly, it has also fueled investment in edtech, workforce development, and other training initiatives.
The event saw 4,500 attendees in 2019, but they expect 5,500 to convene in San Diego between March 30 and April 1 this year.
Aurora Institute Symposium (iNACOL)
Formerly known as the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), the Aurora Institute does not publish attendance figures for their annual symposium. But the event has grown into one of the most important edtech conferences during the year.
The Symposium will occur this year in San Antonio, Texas between October 25 and 28. It will feature over 200 sessions and keynotes by representatives from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, CORE Education, numerous universities, and the North Dakota State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler.
Did we miss a bigger edtech conference? Let us know by commenting below or by sending an email to contact [at] elearninginside [dot] com.
Featured Image: Jaime Lopes, Unsplash.