Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Education and Technology - Notes for SFTA

John on Technology in Education

Technology in Education: Big picture. Education is a process. It takes raw materials, does something to them, ie "educates" them, and provides an output of people ready to be productive adults.
What's changed with tech and the modern world generally? Only everything

1.  The desired output.  Handwriting, arithmetic skills, and knowledge losing their value to employers. And the traditional 30-40 year career at a company died in the last few decades.  New economy requires independence, constant learning and networking, new ways of researching and communicating.

2. The input. The kids of today are so different than not just their parents but their older brothers and sisters. At a conference 4 years ago, there was a powerful slide where two kids  in strollers were shown. Both were holding ipads. Tehre were a series of funny captions about this one can't talk, this one can't walk, both still wear diapers. And then they showed the software that the kids were playing with.  It was stunning. Today, that same point has no emotional power. Of course, diapered kids use iPads.  But those kids are NOT going to react to  a 30 minute lecture by a teacher the way their older siblings did. Never mind like their parents or grandparents.  And despite big pharma, I don't think we're going to drug them all as if they had ADHD..

3.  The process of education. Lets just point out that while most industries can track their increase in productivity. It's often in the news about how the economy overall produced more output for the same amount of labor, education is one of very few sectors that has NO record of productivity increases. Techniques and organization and bureaucracy have all combined to produce no productivity increases.

Quick Intro on me:
Spent my 20s in teh big business consulting firms. Loosely defined. That includes Price Waterhouse consulting and being a Peace Corps Business Advisor.

At 30, I went west to silicon Valley. Worked in 3D graphics at Silicon Graphics, then in video games at 3DO.  Went to London for 6 years including 2 running a video game development company. I went platinum as a playstation game producer.

Some family and business stuff happened and I ended up jobless in South Florida. I started my company in 2004 and have been running it ever since. It was a living room startup.

We now have 60  people here in the office. Another 25 around the country. Steady growth of around 20%.

One half o the business is Our homeschool products are Time4Learning and Time4Writing.  For the first 5 years, I focused on a new sector in education: Homeschoolers.  They are 3% of the K12 population and were probably the first K12 sector to get to 1:1 computing.

While that part of the business continues to prosper, I've focused on the school market for the last few years.

VSC:  Describe it by customer need. Imagine.

S4U:  technology for the sake of science education.

Schools are torn between traditional instincts, use of technology to improve what they are now doing but do it better, and a brave new world in which instead of batching students thru grouped by age in which the pace and teaching focuses on the middle of a bell curve of needs, using technology to provide people with challenges and skill building appropriate to their appetites and capability.

Most powerful thing that I've learned from homeschooling is the magic of choice. And the poison of regimentation and inappropriate work. Kills the interest and motivation.

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