Edu Tech “Bubble”: Who will be around in 5-10 years?
Yesterday, there was an article published on Campus Technology’s website called Is Higher Education Ready for “The Education Bubble,” and it had me thinking about implications on education in general, in particular K12 education. Although many may think nonsense, considering that there is no money in K12 (more deficit), there are some new money being tossed around to fund new 21st century learning initiatives. With the rapid growth of software development and emerging technologies, there has been a dramatic shift in where education is focusing their dollars. Many new venture capitalists are pouring millions of dollars investing in new online software and technology hardware. “Edupreneuers” and philanthropists are funding programs and reform initiatives to tackle 21st century models of education. And government is creating federal programs (dollars) to support innovation in schools and districts. While this is exciting news for educators ready to build the next generation schools and infrastructures, we also have to be prudent to watch how this industry is progressing. Asking the right questions and being vigilant in which direction or agenda people may have will be important to avoid a potential education “bubble.”
Like many Americans, I have had the unfortunate experience of going through the dot.com stock market bubble and the more recent housing market bubble. To this day, many like myself are continuing to recover from those terrible financial periods. The marketing hype machine that was behind both bubbles fooled many of us into buying into the products (stocks and houses). Now to compare those two tragic bubbles to a potential education “bubble” is a bit of a stretch, but learning from those lessons will be key to not fall into the trap of all this new technology hype.
For example, there are a ton of new money being invested in software/hardware companies to produce the next generation curriculum, assessment tools, and other interactive learning gadgets. In the past year along, I have seen hundreds of products being marketed to the K12 industry touting solutions that will raise test scores, change the way students learn, and solve issues in education. While this is exciting for technologists like myself to see a wide variety of products catering to our needs, I also at the same time begin to ask the question, who will be around in the next 5-10 years? As we begin entering the world of digital curriculum, web 2.0, online content, and interactive technologies, there has to be a point where majority of these companies will not survive. It is such a new industry and at some point, the thousands of companies touting their products will hit a tipping point and many will be defunct, leaving schools with squandered investments. Be vigilant…