A few days ago, I attended Imagine K12‘s “demo day” where a group of startups in the education space pitched their companies to potential funders.
As I sat and listened to these mostly young entrepreneurs, I wondered which ones might disrupt education just as technology has changed other industries such as the music and newspaper businesses.
While public K-12 schools are free and parents sometimes have a choice of where to send their child (including home schooling), education is one product families are required to consume. What’s more, the people who work at these schools are in a position of authority over their customers. The grades that teachers hand to students can have an enormous impact on their future. That sure is different from the commercial world where the customers’ collective satisfaction, in most cases, determines the success or failure of the business.
It strikes me that it’s time for technology to start disrupting education. I’m not calling for the abolition of schools. My wife and daughter are public school teachers and I am the beneficiary of 20 years of public education with three degrees from state universities, including a doctorate in education. If anything, I want to see more resources going into education.
But I want those resources to be used smartly, not just by taking advantage of hardware and software that can improve education, but also by using social media to supplement what teachers do and make it increasingly possible for people to learn outside the confines of a classroom.