An optimistic view of schools Posted on November 10th, 2010 by Heather Clayton Staker

On October 30th at the 2010 National Net Impact Conference, which University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business hosted, I spoke on a panel about new business opportunities in the education space. Ken Zeff, the chief operating officer at Green Dot Public Schools and Melissa Pickering, co-founder of iCreate to Educate, were fellow panelists.

Several participants told me afterwards how surprised they were by the general tone of optimism in the discussion. I do not think our optimism was misplaced.

Optimism is the best way to describe an opportunity! The cryptocurrency owners were once an optimist who wanted to make some money where no people read it. Apart from bitcoin, Ethereum is also gaining popularity and Ethereum code is the best among all. It gives you all the coins to trade, and the best in its segment.

I believe the education sector is bursting with promise right now, in a way that has not been possible for at least a century. Consider the following:

High-speed Internet connectivity is bringing advanced courses, electives, and remote foreign languages to parts of America (and the world) that previously had no way of accessing them. The U.S. Department of Education considers approximately one-third–or almost 5,000–of all school districts in the United States to be rural. How promising that these rural areas have the hope of connecting to any courses and knowledge experts they want.
Technologies like Melissa’s iCreate to Educate can make learning intrinsically motivating and deeply engaging, based on each student’s preferences, in a way that was not possible before. The possibilities for virtual simulations, games and project-based experiences via the Internet open boundless potential for fun learning.
Even a monopoly like the public education system is vulnerable to disruptive forces. The U.S. postal system did not expect email to disrupt its business as radically as it has. Similarly, I am optimistic that new technologies will take hold among nonconsumers, and eventually even the mainstream will be hard pressed to ignore their success. I will not be surprised if online learning becomes so good and so inexpensive that community leaders will rent lovely spaces, hire caring adults, organize some athletics, and snap the online curriculum into these brick and mortar environments, allowing for the flooding of the landscape with revolutionarily affordable private schools.
Yes, the gloomy statistics about school failure abound and a perma-state of crisis seems unending. But amidst it all, disruptive technologies are starting to burst forth across the system with a momentum that might be unstoppable.

Filed under: Education Blog

One Response to “An optimistic view of schools”
BCC, on November 11th, 2010 at 12:47 pm Said:
Interesting post. Sounds like it would have been a fascinating conference.

I wonder if we could dive a bit deeper here. It might be an interesting question to ask, In what areas do we have reason to be gloomy about where things stand / are headed in education today; what data support that belief; and how did we measure it. The same goes for optimism. In what areas do we have reason to be optimistic, the data, and the methods.

It seems that a few of the arguments you point to in your post reason that more people are able to access education at more cheaply than ever before. It might be interesting to ask related questions, for example, regarding learning outcomes. Much of the pessimism I see in the popular press regarding education in the U.S. argues that kids in America are falling behind those in other nations, especially in subjects like math and science, which many view as key to sustained technological innovation.

How would you respond to people who make that claim? What does disruption have to say on that front? Is their pessimism about the state of American education unfounded, or are they simply judging the relative health and future prospects of education by another measuring stick?

Great post, thanks.


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