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CODiE Winners and the History of the Universe

In conjunction with its annual Ed-Tech Industry Summit this week in San Francisco, the Software & Information Industry Association today announced the winners in the educational technology category of its 2012 CODiE Awards, which annually recognize some of the best new product development in the industry.

This of course leaves us observers scouring the names on the winners list in an attempt to identify some trends. And after looking at this year's 29 winners in all, the best analogy I can come up with is a primitive explanation of the Big Bang Theory. (And no, not the sitcom that has seized unilateral control of the airwaves on TBS and UPN).

If you think of the ed-tech industry like the universe, what began as the big bang of computers entering the classroom has become increasingly disparate and fragmented. That's not to say that the industry's diverse players don't work together, but the industry itself is expanding and decentralizing. And if you look at the three biggest awards given—those for best overall education solution, best K-12 solution, and best post-secondary solution—you'll find five different companies offering five unique services (there's a three-way tie in one category).

But at the same time, as the universe expands, it organizes itself into galaxies of stars, planets, moons, and other matter circling around a hub of mass. Similarly, it appears more winners this year are coming from major players like Discovery Education, Blackboard, Pearson, and especially McGraw-Hill, as innovators from the fringe are courted or absorbed by bigger competitors. (McGraw-Hill took three categorical awards, the only company this year to secure more than one.)

So what happens next? Some say the universe will expand forever, with galaxies speeding apart from each other at increasing rates. Others suggest it will slow, stop, reverse, and eventually collapse in on itself, leading to a new big bang and a new universe. And still others believe there are parallel universes similar to our own, perhaps even coexisting in the same space but another dimension, but with no crossover between their reality and ours. Kind of like Mac and PC users.

While you're pondering that, be sure to check back here for more of Katie Ash's live SIIA coverage from San Francisco.

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