The education 2.0 debate hits Techcrunch!

..well Techcrunch UK – but still its nice to see education get some coverage outside of the usual suspects.

The article kicked off an interesting debate in the comments which I contributed a couple of small points to and enjoyed reading the many intelligent comments (while people were not always agreeing it all remained very civil).

Many issues I have come across before were raised; the power of the BBC and Channel 4 in the education space (BBC Jam was mentioned a number of times), the reluctance of budget holders in schools to take a risk on something new and innovative and the already existing cadre of education software providers who have been around for years and who are (often but not always) able to trade on a reputation rather than innovation.

As far as I can see none of this is going to change any time soon.  Personally I think the BBC and Channel 4 do valuable work and as long as its within their remits to provide educational materials then I believe that there is no problem with that – as long as they are producing quality content and tools its good for education in the UK.  The software companies spent alot of time and money getting where they are and aren’t going to just step aside to make room for a bunch of start ups and the schools worries about sustainability are real.

The challenge for start-ups is, I think and its only my own vaguely thought out opinion, to find a niche in the increasingly important ‘informal’ learning space.  More and more activity takes place outside of the classroom these days and its here – away from the direct restrictions of the national curriculum, Ofsted, SATs scandals etc – that there is room to do something new and interesting.

Its also woth remembering that in many ways its not the students or the schools you are targetting but the parents and guardians so maybe there is an adjustment that needs to be made there.

I firmly believe there is room in this space for a number of start-ups to come through – people like School of Everything, Teachstreet, Grockit and GlobalScholar are all showing that oportunities exist out there but in many ways this is a more challenging area than normal consumer driven social media – the stakes are higher and so are the standards required.

One thought on “The education 2.0 debate hits Techcrunch!

  1. good food for thought – thanks.

    I can see with beanbag how theres scope for generating revenue. With School of Everything I don’t get it at all – I love their philosophy – everyone has something to teach & something to learn etc. but I don’t get how the service itself can become sustainable (or why people would invest in it – but they’ve done brilliantly on investment).

    With the original chats about OnTheUp we talked about a model that would provide lots of data that could potentially be sold to funders & commissioners. Stuff like what kinds of experiences are most valuable/beneficial to the end user – at this stage though I think it became too complicated to take forward.

    What I think is really interesting is exploring potential new ways of supporting learning – and not just using the web to support existing models, but trying to use the web to provide opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be there. But the problem with this approach is it doesn’t ‘solve a problem’, so theres nobody to sell it to!

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