I am flying home from the SIIA Ed Tech Industry Summit in San Francisco. During the past few days, there was a lot of dialog about the future, and, both campus and industry thought leaders asserted that the time is now for innovation. Some of the themes that I think are very relevant for entrepreneurs…
Institutions are experimenting, especially in higher ed. While most of the startups at the conference have K12 solutions, several panels showed that experimentation is more fertile in higher ed, which lacks the bureaucratic constraints that stifle experimentation in K12. CIOs Joe Moreau from DeAnza-Foothills CC and Eric Hawley from Utah State showed that the culture and process for experimentation on college campuses is increasing. Joe commented that piloting is the way to go: “it gives us permission to fail and allows us to date before we get married.” Eric had the best quote of the conference: “What’s hot is simple. What’s not is complex.”
Focus on the teachable moment. Many of the panelists believe that the upcoming innovations are going to be all about making teachers rock stars and using technology to increase student/teacher interaction. Diana Rhoten from Amplify noted that the first wave of ed tech innovations were about faster and cheaper, and the next wave will be focused on teaching and learning.
MOOCs are escalating innovation. Every conference in education has a buzz around MOOCs (massive online open courses). Howard Lurie of EdX asserted that the open sourcing of the EdX platform (slated for June) provides institutions with a sandbox for innovation. The platform captures every keystroke and provides a window into the learning process.
Shifting roles prompt innovation. The roles of the publishers, technology players, libraries and bookstores are all shifting as the advent of new models means that lines between content, technology and services are blurred. Gerry Hanley, at Cal State, commented that the role of the publishers is shifting as MOOCs and other open education resources become prevalent. Similarly, Mike Diaz from Proquest, the library database company, described the shifting role of librarians to be more involved in helping faculty and students access course content. Others described new learning management solutions that are cloud-based and open-source and become essentially plugs for the many apps that schools are choosing to adopt.
Clearly, the time for education innovation is NOW. And, it’s up to us entrepreneurs and innovators to take advantage of the climate and imagine the future.