There’s a reason WorldView Software has been in business for over three decades: technology changes, but people don’t. Edtech, or technology use in schools — just as in every other area of life — has to work with how people learn. Furthermore, transformation of such a bedrock institution generally requires the resources of a state, and all of those resources, not just money.
State governments shoulder the primary responsibility for public education in our society through their creations: local school districts. In addition to the local taxes that pay for schools, states certify teachers, may require curricula (and even particular textbooks), and provide additional funding. If a local school district goes too far around the bend, the state will step in. Education is a huge, complex undertaking and has been for over a century.
It’s a little stunning how many other companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars learning this the hard way. A recent article by a professor at Columbia Business School in The Atlantic listed the roll of edtech companies that have gone belly-up:
- Knowledge Universe
- Amplify (when it was part of News Corp)
- Edison Schools
- practically the entire universe of for-profit colleges
The article pins the failure of these companies on two factors in particular: inability to scale nationally or even globally (for example, daycare is inherently local) and being too-ambitious in scope (aiming to remake every aspect of education rather than pick something and focus):
The pursuit of high-minded ideals and the belief that the status quo is so bad that it can’t be hard to improve upon causes many investors to devalue execution—yet execution is particularly crucial to the survival of organizations that take on overly broad mandates…The greatest educational-business successes have come from a series of targeted, incremental steps forward within tightly defined markets.
It’s not about grandiose visions promising to create new societies, nor is it about how many bells and whistles you can cram in your software. As an edtech business, WorldView Software’s focus is on creating and delivering the finest possible content in high school and middle school social studies. Maybe that’s why we’ve been in business for 35 years!
When assigning overviews for your flipped classroom, use the “Questions for Thought” as a reflection activity.
Preview WorldView Software’s programs for free at http://www.worldviewsoftware.com/preview/