VentureBeat has a write up on Why Venture Capitalists can’t afford to ignore EdTech any longer. The wider world is waking up to the fact that something needs to change.
I just hope the change is for something more open. They compare it to the changes in enterprise – where people where locked on expensive propriety software, and the escape has come in the form of cloud computing and software-as-a-service. This is more open in some ways (You don’t have to use a Windows machine any more, you could use a Mac or Linux or your phone or tablet or internet-powered-fridge), but in other ways, it’s more locked. You have to keep paying the monthly bill, with no promise it won’t increase later. You have to trust that the company will never go bankrupt, or never go evil. And even if the company has open APIs or let’s you download your data, it usually is hard to migrate over to a competitor later.
I’d hate to see education locked up like that. You can have these amazing learning resources – but they’ll stay on our servers, thank-you-very-much. We’ll help you define all your lesson plans, but it’s on the condition that they never leave our app, so you’ll keep coming back. We’ll help analyse the data about how all your students are learning and performing, but that data stays on our servers and we might use it for something else later, and there’s not much you can do about that.
I want to fight for the upcoming EdTech revolution to be open:
- The school stays in control, and isn’t held ransom to their software suppliers
- The content teachers create is theirs, and they can hold onto it, share it, and take it with them if they switch to a different software product. They don’t have to write everything all over again because their school switched providers.
- People see the value of creative commons – and they gladly cooperate in developing the best educational materials, rather than hoarding what they do for their own benefit. (I think the teachers creating great material tend to be generous, it’s the business people that they work with that might not be).
- When someone goes to the effort to create amazing content, and they want to share it, they should be able to. For example, an e-book shouldn’t be stuck on iPad only. It should work on phones (cheap ones included), computers, printouts (to whatever extent makes sense) and competing tablets. And be future-proof and work on whatever the next-big-thing is.
Education is too important for it to be controlled by a small group of start-up shareholders.