We have enormous innovation in education technology right now. However, the majority is focused on what’s happening outside the classroom. Very few are tackling issues inside of it.
This is where I am most intrigued, as I believe it is the area prime for most disruption. Specifically, real-time integration with new mobile technology shows tremendous promise.
A recent study shows two-thirds of students who try educational mobile apps perceive positive learning, with 100% of students motivated to integrate them into the classroom.
As part of a mobile initiative at Abilene Christian University, the entire student body was given a smartphone device. In a faculty survey, 92% of respondents reported that they are comfortable having students use mobile devices for a required class activity and 83% reported regular use of mobile devices in class. Most faculty saw positive results from using mobile devices in courses, including increased levels of communication and elevated student engagement. More than 94% of faculty labeled the program “successful.”
My new venture, Amplio, is aimed at leveraging mobile apps to enhance the learning experience in higher education. We have identified basic, fundamental problems & pain points for processes inside the classroom. Current inefficiencies we are developing simple solutions for include: attendance, professor evaluation, & participation/polling.
Though we’re just getting started, it’s an exciting journey to be on. I hope we see more entrepreneurs & educators alike combine their efforts to improve the experience inside the classroom.
What are other areas of inefficiency you see & pain points you have for processes inside the classroom?
Management deals with efficiency. It is a measure of how well you execute. For instance, a good manager grades papers quickly & properly.
Leadership deals with effectiveness. It focuses on having the correct vision & direction. For example, a strong leader asks whether a paper is necessary to achieve learning objectives.
You need both. Management is useless without leadership, & vice versa. But, leadership must come first. A clear, defined vision is needed in order to execute.
The state of education seems to be obsessed with a management mentality. We harp on statistics & figures such as test scores, dropout & unemployment rates, & budgets, wondering how we can improve them.
Certainly, we have demonstrated immense inefficiency in our management & execution. However, I contest the problem stems more from our lack of leadership.
We need to start asking questions like, ‘Are tests indicative of learning? Are textbooks necessary? Is accreditation important?’ Asking the tough, hard questions will help us re-define our approach to education in the 21st century.
By focusing on leadership, our management will improve. Then, we just might find the results we’re looking for.
The New York Times recently published the article The Master’s As The New Bachelor’s, in which they chronicle the diminishing value a bachelor’s degree holds in today’s economy.
Simple economics tells us the increased supply of bachelor’s degrees has certainly degraded its value while simultaneously creating heightened demand for a master’s degree.
We are experiencing extreme academic inflation. As the article mentions, “in 20 years, you’ll need a Ph.D to be a janitor.” Sarcasm aside, at this rate, degrees may be created that even surpass the Ph.D level.
Even with the current model, the dilemma is the process becomes cyclical upselling. Students amass more debt & lose out on valuable real-world experience. Schools become the big winners, as they derive more value than the students. The market is simply taking advantage of a competitive economy by hiking unnecessary requirements.
Furthering one’s education is admirable so long as it is for the right reason. In the article, however, we see reasoning such as “this will make you more marketable.” With this mentality, students have already lost. It creates an endless pursuit for higher credentials. As Seth Godin writes, “I’m not sure we need them (students) to be better labeled or more accredited.”
Schools need to provide students with the skills & knowledge they need to go & make a difference in the world. The aim should be to achieve this as fast as possible.
Education should last a lifetime, but schooling shouldn’t. The purpose shouldn’t be to create more schooling. The goal should create less.
Perhaps a degree isn’t worth as much anymore, but perhaps we have wrongly subjected our ability & potential to the amount of schooling we need as well.
Design is critical for any institution. The illustration above highlights the difference of design between Apple & Google. Apple designs by dictatorship. Google designs by committee.
The result? Apple has a faster, more intuitive user experience. Google is slower & heavier.
We see this scenario play out in business. Many corporations become so large they cannot innovate rapidly. Smaller startups are the ones that drive innovation.
The same can be said for education. The majority of private schools outperform public schools, in part due to better centralized authority that acts faster.
Public schools have scaled too large for effective management. The bureaucratic system is inefficient. As analyzed by sociologist Max Weber, bureaucracy works best with a strong command of authority & when performance is judged by productivity. Education, however, has become too layered. It also introduces ambiguity in attempting to measure intangible skills.
In contrast, private schools are leaner & more agile. They can evolve & adapt quickly. This ability enables a refined focus & produces higher performance.
Decentralization & ownership is highly important in education. However, when it comes to design, an involved & democratic process will always detract from the user experience. Control is the better method.
Simplicity & speed will always win.
Next week, on August 2nd & 3rd, I will be in NYC for the #140edu Conference.
The changes in the way we live our lives must create change in the way we teach and learn. The real-time web should create profound changes in the way we think about what, how and why students and teachers can do, create and communicate. The very nature of what we consider “school” should be radically different given the powerful reach of the communicate tools our students have at their disposal. #140edu is dedicated to exploring and expanding that change.
As a student, I was able to sign up for just $15.00! Educators can also apply for just $1.40 here!
Don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity. Are any of you going?