In fall 2007, Larry Berger, CEO of Wireless Generation (now Amplify) was invited to submit a paper to an “Entrepreneurship in Education”
As education entrepreneurs know, growth in K-12 comes hard. Sometimes very hard. We were living Marc Andreessen’s startup mantra: “You only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror.”
The edtech boom of the past two decades promised efficacy and new instructional models. Many teachers instead experience it as “clutter.” But poorly integrated standards, curriculum, assessment, and intervention materials have always been a problem.
When it comes to instruction, the work consists of four segments: core curriculum, supplemental (intervention, test prep, little books) curriculum, assessment, and technology (hardware, infrastructure and connectivity). Each of these workstreams are run by separate teams, using independent funding streams, only rarely coordinating. Schools rely—as they always have—on the hero in the classroom, who has to somehow synthesize everything for a roomful of children, every single day.
Twelve Years Later: How the K-12 Industry and Investment Landscape Has Shifted (Part 2)
Twelve years ago, Amplify CEO Larry Berger and I wrote about the “pareto distribution” of companies in the K-12 sector.
The “oligopoly” was the natural outcome of a highly decentralized system and fragmented demand. To serve 15,000-plus districts and more than 100,000 school buildings, a company needed huge sales and service teams; to afford them, the company needed a bookbag full of products across content areas, grade ranges, and use cases. The structure of demand created the “Big Three”—McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson.
Meanwhile, the number of small players—further right on the pareto distribution—has grown dramatically. Online distribution and freemium business models have enabled companies like Flocabulary, Newsela, Nearpod, and others
few alternative models to consider:
companies like Remind, ClassDojo, and Edmodo, who all adopted a “West Coast” approach: collect active users now, with plans to monetize later.
The second includes the “platform” players—Schoology, itslearning, Canvas, and other LMS-like platforms. They have set out to do something differently, only possible by means of technology—to be the search, storage and distribution platform for instructional content. Google Classroom has instead emerged as the de facto standard platform, fueled by the runaway adoption of Chromebooks.
The third includes “policy responsive” players—companies like Panorama, Ellevation or Wireless Generation. hese companies help school systems meet a new policy requirement—social-emotional learning, English Language Learning, and reading assessment, respectively.
But we’re not “decluttering” our classrooms or in our schools. What would it take for the private and public sectors to work shoulder-to-shoulder?
a catch-22: so long as buying is fragmented, it’s hard to justify the integrated product investment; so long as products are fragmented, it’s hard for a district to create an integrated instructional model.
70 percent of teens now say they use social media more than once a day, compared to 34 percent of teens in 2012.
Snapchat is now the most popular social media platform among teens, with 41 percent saying it’s the one use most frequently.
35 percent of teens now say texting is their preferred mode of communication with friends, more than the 32 percent who prefer in-person communication. In 2012, 49 percent of teens preferred in-person communication.
One-fourth of teens say using social media makes them feel less lonely, compared to 3 percent who say it makes them feel more lonely.
Nearly three-fourths of teens believe tech companies manipulate them to get them to spend more time on their devices and platforms.
Back in 2012, Facebook dominated the landscape, and social media was something for teens to periodically check in on.
In 2018, though, “social media” is no longer a monolith. Teens now communicate, express themselves, share experiences and ideas, rant, gossip, flirt, plan, and stay on top of current events using a mix of platforms that compete ferociously for their attention.
Sixty-three percent of teens say they use Snapchat, and 41 percent say it’s the platform they use most frequently.
Instagram, meanwhile, is used by 61 percent of teens.
And Facebook’s decline among teens has been “precipitous,” according to the new report. Just 15 percent of teens now say Facebook is their main social media site, down from 68 percent six years ago
Common Sense Media recently partnered with the Center for Humane Technology, which supports the development of ethical technological tools, to lay out a fierce call for regulation and awareness about the health issues surrounding tech addiction.
To support educators making such decisions, Common Sense Media is taking their “Truth about Tech” campaign to schools through an upgraded version of their current Digital Citizenship curriculum. The new updates will include more information on subjects such as:
Creating a healthy media balance and digital wellness;
Concerns about the rise of hate speech in schools, that go beyond talking about cyberbullying; and
Fake news, media literacy and curating your own content
What Does ‘Tech Addiction’ Mean?
In a recent NPR report, writer Anya Kamenetz, notes that clinicians are debating whether technology overuse is best categorized as a bad habit, a symptom of other mental struggles (such as depression or anxiety) or as an addiction.
Dr. Jenny Radesky, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at the American Academy of Pediatrics, notes that though she’s seen solid evidence linking heavy media usage to problems with sleep and obesity, she hesitated to call the usage “addiction.”
Dr. Robert Lustig, an endocrinologist who studies hormones at the University of Southern California disagreed, noting that parents have to see the overuse of technology as an addiction.
Research from the Yale Center of Teaching and Learning highlights the ups and downs of classroom tech use, including the juxtaposition of increased engagement from using familiar platforms for assignments and decreased motivation and grades from limitless internet exposure, eSchool News reports.
Educators must ensure a cautious approach to tech use that doesn’t make students overly reliant upon it to complete tasks and solve problems, using social networking and collaborative platforms as a means to an end rather than the be-all solution.
Before adopting and implementing it, educators should consider how any given piece of classroom technology will improve studying, what the possible pitfalls are and how to avoid them, how it will help meet goals or close gaps, and how it will improve workflow, according to eSchool News.
Pitting two of the most important entities of our schools — curriculum and IT — against each other is the ultimate power struggle. What are we really trying to achieve when we address this battle using the phrase “bridging the gap?”
If the technology and the infrastructure supporting it doesn’t work, then why have the technology at all? Likewise, if professional development and training are not a priority, then the technology will become nothing more than a glorified paperweight.
both curriculum and IT leaders need to come together to discuss the decisions that can make or break a learning environment.