Starting in the new year, you can find all your content at collaborationforgood.wordpress.com . Keepin’ it simple.
Reading the Lean Startup and Lean Machine (among many others) made me realize that I haven’t been practicing what I preach. While running a self-hosted blog was a great idea for a while and taught me a lot, I wasn’t getting to the segments I wanted with the results I wanted.
It helped introduce me to an incredible crowd of practitioners and thought leaders in the Social Business space, and keep in touch with friends and family while we were in Tanzania. No regrets.
With that in mind, after a little more than 3 years, I’m wrapping up shop here at collaborationforgood.org and will be looking for a new home, probably on tumblr or wordpress.com.
I don’t regret a dime or a minute I spent into this work, but for now self-hosting isn’t the answer for me. Time to pivot.
Living a digital life means leaving trace elements of data behind. Just as businesses are using the strategies and technologies of “big data” to scour that data for new product ideas, marketing pitches, and custom ads, “edtech” entrepreneurs are are trying to figure out what value they can squeeze out of data flowing from our school doors.
There is some good that is coming of this.
A personalized test that challenges and adapts reinforces the right level of rigor. Access to knowledge anytime and anywhere lowers the barriers to works of literature, art, history and more that were once reserved for the “elite.”
And yet there’s a lot of bleh too.
MOOCs were promising, but are now better understood to only be valuable to a very small segment of highly motivated students who learn best through independent study. Crunching the data from EdX, Udacity, and Coursera will be interesting if they ever open those flood gates. Similarly, flipped classrooms, smart boards, and even power points rarely actually help teachers do their job better. Take your pick of flops (from a pedagogical standpoint): iPads, Chromebooks, e-textbooks, Amplify and so forth.
Certainly some of these technologies will have a role to play in the future, but for now they’ve collectively made an expensive surface scratch.
The dry erase marker is probably the best thing to hit classrooms in the last 15 years.
It’s fair to ask why all of these edtech startups (and not so “start”-ups) are struggling. They’re not struggling for cash, thanks to cozy deals with publishing companies, investors, and other not so disinterested parties. But they are failing nonetheless in delivering something meaningful to the people that could benefit from them most.
- It’s harder to fail fast. There is a simple truth behind this: the only losers in a failed start-up are the people who tried to make more money than they had to start and their deep pocketed investors. The losers in a failed ed-intervention are principals, teachers, students, parents, and communities who have given the public their trust. Risk, therefore, is significant and in short supply.
- It’s harder to measure what you’re learning. Lean methods and Lean Accounting are great when it’s easy to get your data. But when you want to look at longitudinal data that’s impacted by so many different factors, it’s safer and more accurate to turn to multi-year, multi-million dollar independent studies than week-over-week classroom data. And yet, that’s what’s expected. This leads to a lot of noisy data and even noisier sales people overconfident with their own data sets.
- Outsiders are making a lot of the decisions. While there is a growing cohort of teacher-preneurs, they’re still in the minority. This isn’t anyone’s fault directly, but good solutions require diverse teams that should be built from the ground up. Some of the best already are (more on this another time).
One way to look at the relative lack of innovation in education is to say “we got it mostly right.” Excluding the uninitiated, it’s hard to accept that line of thought when you step inside your average classroom.
Ultimately technology has a critical role to play and I’m all for encouraging innovative thoughts and experiments. What I remain critical of, and caution others on, is the “disruption” talk that emphasizes tech over student-focused solutions. Where I’ve seen technology most effective is in sharing content, videos, and lessons, assisting in feedback, driving adaptive assessments, and helping teachers crunch interim and formative assessment data.
It’s never fun to be used to attack others. C4G has been slow, and then down for 48 hours, due to a takeover! The aliens have come.
Fortunately, I was able to clear the mess. MIB came. While I look into improving the firewalls and rebooting the server on an upgraded instance from Bitnami – my host – we should be back in action!