I'm at the ISTE 2011 conference this week, which purports to be the premier ed-tech conference in the world. I'll be reporting on the latest-and-greatest in education technology - in new technology innovations as well as how these tools are being incorporated by teachers and students into the classroom.

The big names in the ed-tech industry will be on the exhibit floor - Pearson, Scholastic, SMART Technologies, Microsoft, Google, for example. But despite this strong and sizable presence of major tech companies, I can't help but wonder how the explosion in consumer technology over the last few years is reshaping ed-tech and how it is changing what teachers and students alike are demanding: technology that is more personalized, more user-friendly, and, well, just plain better.

A Great Time for Education Technology Startups

The app ecosystem - of the iPad, of Android, and on the Web - has given rise to a number of startups that have entered the education technology space with great gusto.

One of them, ShowMe has just officially launched its first iPad app - well-timed for an event where many teachers are bound to be carrying around their beloved Apple devices. (iTunes link) The app takes the idea of an interactive whiteboard, but frees it from the expensive and cumbersome hardware, makes it more personalized, more accessible, and more social.

The ShowMe app lets users record a voice-over whiteboard-like tutorial that can then be shared as a video online or embedded into other websites. With the app, you can write directly onto the screen as you record your voice. You can also import various images to help accompany your lesson.

The app is incredibly easy to use, thanks in no small part to the beta process in which the startup made care to pay attention to what teachers and students need from the tool.

Consumer Tech + User-Generated Content

The app lets users create their own educational videos - a format for delivering lessons that has been popularized lately by Khan Academy. But unlike the one-man lecture machine of Sal Khan, ShowMe helps enable teacher- and student-created videos, again with minimal equipment - just an iPad. ShowMe founder San Kim says that he hopes to be able to build a Vimeo-like community around the video content, where users can comment, review and discover quality instructional content.

Kim told me he wants to enable anyone to build their own portfolio of educational content - to build hundreds of Khan Academies. That's a goal that puts teacher- and student-generated content at the center of education, one enabled by a simple, but smoothly functioning app.

ShowMe is just one example of how the ed-tech industry is shifting due to the explosion of consumer Web and mobile tech and the generation of user-generated content. Tech savvy educators and ed-tech startups are leading the charge in a lot of ways here.

Stay tuned to more innovation in education. And stay tuned for more news from me throughout the ISTE conference.