Recapping ED Games Expo Week 2020

The ED Games Expo is the Department of Education’s annual showcase and celebration of innovation in education for students of all ages and practitioners in education and special education.

The different technologies showcased at this year’s Expo were developed by 115 teams with funding support from 33 programs across the Federal government, including seven Department of Education programs. Expo attendees demoed an array of learning games and innovative technologies across all topics and forms, such as virtual and augmented reality, maker tools, automated tutors, role-playing simulations, data dashboards for teachers, and assistive technologies.

But ED Games Expo has grown to be so much more than a single opportunity to demo and experience emerging learning technology. It has become a shining example of how government and industry are pushing to rethink how students learn. Since 2013, the ED Games Expo has hosted curated panel sessions in addition to the main event. In recent years, the Expo also brought developers and students together to talk about how the games were made and the many career paths that contribute to the development of the technology.

This year, the ED Games Expo was expanded to encompass a weeklong series of events focusing on innovation in education.  The 2020 expo experience was designed to provide students with a rich learning opportunity, and to encourage developers and stakeholders to build their own capacity to make good on the potential of technology to improve education.

Highlights from the week include the following:

  • Local School Visits
    26 different teams of developers visited area schools and met with more than 1,000 students to demo the games and technologies in classrooms and answer questions about the game development process and careers as entrepreneurs and researchers.
  • Office Hours
    30 representatives from government offices and 25 representatives from research and industry organizations hosted tables to meet with more than 200 members of the public seeking information and networking opportunities.
  • Showcase Events
    Experts from industry and government gathered for “Big Idea Talks” on how to bolster innovation across six different topic areas including: special education, early learning, eSports, making and career and technical education, XR, and learning games.

The innovation and progress being made in learning technologies is truly astounding. We can only imagine what next year will bring!

Edward Metz is a Research Scientist and the Program Manager for the Small Business Innovation Research Program at the US Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. ED/IES SBIR provides funding for the research, development, and evaluation of commercially viable education technology products, 30 of which were demoed at the Expo.