Archive for the ‘education technology’ Category

00628 Invention Driven Innovation for Education

October 8, 2010

AP’s Kathy Matheson’s article on educational invention is at http://tinyurl.com/322y3cr. It seems that at last a national support system is emerging for eLearning products and services – maybe.

Our U.S. technology based and innovation driven industries enjoy a total of $150 billion in research funds annually. Defense gets half, National Institutes of Health $30 billion and National Aeronautics and Space Administration $20 billion*. Educational technology? Just about zip – maybe $100 million on a good year. Education is just now being recognized as an industry to be driven by technology based innovation.  With research lagging far behind, where are the other vectors of support. The market?

The U.S. formal education industry spends $1 trillion each year, and is willing to invest for access, efficiency and effectiveness. For most entrepreneurs the lack of technology infrastructure, turnover in policies, leaders and curricula, and cumbersome purchasing procedures presents a significant marker barrier. Entrepreneurs have tended to invest their talent and funds in more attractive markets. How about the public sector?

The Department of Education has a $650 million fund to boost education innovation that is focused on entrepreneurship. University of Pennsylvania wants to create an entrepreneur incubator linked with their Department of Education. ASU has grouped their world class ed-tech research groups into SkySong with its enterprise incubator under the leadership of Julia Rosen, Assoc. VP for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. They held the first national education entrepreneur summit this spring. It was modeled after Michael Moe’s similar eLearning industry conferences in the 1990’s.

The expectation is that the education market for technological innovation will become a rival to health care. It’s an admirable goal but we have a long way to go if the health care model of technology is a model.

Another down side for entrepreneurs is that the Venture Capital system destroyed itself ten years ago with its dot-com melt down. During the 1990’s half of VC funded entrepreneurs could expect an initial public offering where they could take their enterprise to the next level. Almost all they can expect now is to be acquired by another company where the entrepreneur leaves with a big pay day. On the brighter side, let’s do a visionary road map:

Factor of 10 and then another factor of 10 increase of federal R&D funding for eLearning research.

A boom in entrepreneurship driven marketing of innovative digital content, curriculum, assessment and delivery systems.

A return of the IPO and a healthy VC dynamic to grow $5 million enterprises to $500 million.

I know that there is a fine line between road maps and wishful thinking. But maybe the Black Swan is about to alight on the eLearning entrepreneurs’ pond.

* “Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2008,” 2007, Congressional Research Service.

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00426Economy_Workforce_Education

May 3, 2010

Arizona for the past couple of decades can be modeled by a unique propeller driven airplane. The thrust that propels this aircraft is a counter rotating duo of three bladed propellers. As the head winds increase this thrust remains fairly constant but the aircraft slows.

The three propeller blades are the economy, education, and workforce which are tightly coupled.

The front propeller has the:

economy which depends on a high quality workforce;

which in turn depends on a high performance education system;

which in turn  depends on funding from a robust economy.

The rear propeller has the:

workforce that needs quality jobs delivered by a globally competitive economy;

which in turn , requires a top ranked education system to support enterprise attraction,   creation, growth and retention

which in turn requires a world class  workforce of educators.

Economic research credits technological  innovation for 85% of economic advances over the past 200 years.

Workforces in almost all industries have been trained and educated to adopt and use these emerging technologies with their unique process changes over the past 200 years.

Education industry has adopt  technologies and processes invented prior to 200 years ago,  only in the recent couple of decades has emerging technology initiated its innovation process to transform education.

Arizona is positioned to seize the global lead in transforming education with eLearning adoption. But since the leading player in Arizona education is our legislature, the members must be strongly support the long range plan.

We have major coalitions that are committed to transformation in general.

ABEC is business-education and is focusing on school finance.

Expect More Arizona (rolling out this week) is business-foundation and is focused on election of candidates the support education and workforce.

AZ eLearning Task Force has a 10 year policy mission.

The two missing pieces are the:

eLearning enterprises that lead in the understanding of educational technology and process that deliver effective eLearning across K-12 and higher education, workforce, and military simulation.

The rest of the technology enterprises that leading in the understanding of how to engage and develop technology savvy workforces and how apply innovative technologies in the workplace.

GAZEL is the organization for Arizona’s eLearning enterprises with one of the largest clusters of companies in the nation with revenues over $4 billion.

ATC has over 500 members statewide and has had great track record on educating legislators on technology issues and getting bills passed. Their reputation is outstanding, from the legislature to national level.

There is a significant opportunity for Arizona and both organizations if GAZEL and ATC are able to work mutually support each other and work together as the driving force in a statewide quest to make eLearning the means to simultaneously create a world class economy, workforce and education system.

00419 Educators and Employers Two Different Worlds

May 3, 2010

So goes Arizona’s economy, so goes education, so goes the economy, so goes ed…

In the early 1990’s, Arizona had a thriving high-tech manufacturing sector with quality jobs paying twice the average wage of other sectors. Four of the top ten employers were high-tech, with 45,000 employees. By 2000 Honeywell had merged with Allied Signal Aerospace and Intel moved into the top ten with Motorola and Raytheon, with total of 52,000 employees. Today Walmart, and other retailers dominate the top 10 employers with only Honeywell and Raytheon with 23,000 high tech employees remaining.

Educators have striven over the past two decades to improve reading, math and science education and focus on learning 21st century skills. There has also been an effort to adopt high-tech learning support systems to improve effectiveness of student achievement. The small academic gains based on test scores may be statistically significant, but their effect factor is far off the mark of what is needed. High school graduation rates, and graduate career and college readiness have not begun to close Arizona’s widening demand gap.

From the 1940’s through the 1970’s, our major high-tech manufacturing firms were established as divisions of California, Chicago and New York based corporations. Since then, no divisions or corporations of this type have been successfully attracted or grown from scratch in Arizona. Current non-manufacturing successes such as Avnet (electronic components distributor) and Apollo (online learning) have combined 75,000 employees — but only a fraction are in Arizona.

Arizona’s population has almost doubled in the past couple of decades, but the high-tech quality jobs have not. Lower paying retail and service jobs continue their explosive growth.

What is the cause – effect relationship?

According to the Arizona Technology Council, there continues to be high demand in the high-tech community for high quality engineering, manufacturing and service employees, yet they are hard to find in Arizona even though our college level education system is working hard to meet the need.

The critical factor is that our K-12 system does not connect to this demand. K-12’s time horizon to address this demand is a decade or two while human resources departments need educated workers this year. K-12 boards and leaders live in a non-profit public service world while employers are mostly in the for-profit private sector. School funding comes from an array of property, income and other taxes. Employers pay their taxes with little influence on how schools are funded.

eSATS’ team has striven provide a solution that can transform education to be highly responsive to every student’s needs. Our intent is to home-grow an educated and skilled adult population that itself attracts and grows a huge number of quality jobs within Arizona.

But frankly I believe we are at a time similar to the Lincoln – Douglas debates and Lincoln’s Coopers Union address. Lincoln had so finely clarified the true situation between the South and the North that the nation had finally realized there was no political solution, and their only alternative was war.

Since war is not now an alternative, and the current reform process is not meeting the demand for greatly increase academic performance we must find a better way. There is a single critical linkage between educators and employers. Over the past 200 years, employers have become very effective in adopting emerging technologies of all kinds. If Arizona employers could transfer both the knowledge and the culture of technology driven innovation to our schools it might be just tip the scales toward transformation.

00412 Green Energy and Turqs

May 3, 2010

During the 1960’s, the “green revolution” bible was Stewart Brand’s “Whole Earth Catalog”. Last year Mr. Brand published his “Whole Earth Discipline” again with a picture of Earth from space on the cover. This time he asks us to “question convenient fables.”

There are many fables from the 1960’s that turned out to not be true or caused significant harm to the environment. Overpopulation driven apocalypses did not happen, but climate change was ignored for decades. New technologies like nuclear energy were thwarted, resulting in massive carbon releases from burning coal. Anti-genetically engineered foods and focus on organic food is fine, as a lifestyle choice, for affluent folks but when this notion is exported to third world counties, malnutrition and starvation surges while the natural environment is harmed.

Mr. Brand has now “rebranded” nuclear power as green energy because of low carbon emissions and foot print.

Yesterday I was having a luncheon discussion with one of Arizona’s legislators who is a strong supporter of green energy. Fourth generation Arizonan, her grandfather’s ranch was run on “green” wind power, wood burning and thick walls to insulate from the heat and cold. I suggested that she consider another green source of renewable energy on the ranch that of muscle power of both animals and people and particularly the mental energy of people.

Our overarching conversation yesterday at the capital was how Arizona could transform itself into a technology driven economy. The common vision of the day focused on energy, biotech and education. By integrating these three together the solution for Arizona’s transformation emerges. By enabling the mental energy of Arizona’s people with technology to learn; the knowledge and skills needed for the greenest of green economic transformation of Arizona will be in hand.

Mr. Brand has renamed green activists as Turgs. This is short for turquoise which is green combined with blue. The blue sky vision of the future is needed to guide green action and mitigate unintended consequences, and to be guided by facts and research, not nostalgia or technophobia. He has also modified his mantra from the 1960’s from:

We are as gods and might as well get good at it.

To

We are as gods and have to get good at it.

Ref. John Tierney article, New York Times.

00405Advocacy Demands Clear Message

May 3, 2010

Education Week, March 31, 2010 had two interesting articles. One was on the NAEP scores progress over the years and the other was titled “What Gifted Educators Can Learn From Sarah Palin.

What has sustained Sarah Palin is her ability to put out a very clear message to her base of voters. Her niche is exact and identifiable. Originally gifted education was defined by Lewis Terman, designer of the Stanford-Binet intelligence test, as an I.Q. 140 or more. This resulted in 1%-3% of the students who were the smartest of the smart who had extraordinary needs from the educational system. Over the past 60 years, Witty, Renzulli, and Gardiner expanded the definition to where giftedness was diluted to the point of absurdity. Advocates have become hard-pressed to define the gifted child. As a result, potential supporters – politicians and administrators – are confused since there is no longer a clear definition. It is easy for the public to ignore the gifted. On the other hand, Sarah Palin has articulated a “unique selling proposition” and she sticks to it.

Gifted education has always been a niche issue and will remain so. eLearning for K-12 education is currently a niche issue serving about 3%-5% of learning. But it has the potential to serve all students. The critical issue for advocates is to define the issue in a very clean and concise way to accelerate adoption. Since we are still in the disruptive part of the innovation cycle, we need to hammer hard on one issue:

The effect of eLearning on academic performance.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress shows NO PROGRESS. As much as educational statisticians like to play with statistical significance to call out “* Significantly different from 2009” there is no EFFECTIVE difference.

Currently 60% of students who are not classified as performing are classified as either achieving or failing to achieve a basic education. Basic education is below the standard needed to thrive in a 21st century world.

The eLearning advocate’s message is can be illustrated by data from eLearning exemplars. Arizona’s Wilson District is one of the oldest, and there are hundreds more across the U.S. Only six years after adopting a complete 21st Century eLearning system for their K-8 students, Wilson had improved their students’ academic performance from last in the state to above average.

A K-12 eLearning system description is complex. Effective implementation requires focus on dozens of issues and long range planning. Advocates must rise above this maze of details and focus a clear “Sarah Palin” type of message. This message must carry the current true-believers while attracting an audience ten times as great. Our best bet for this phase is to sell the potential attainment. For this we need a host of exemplars like Wilson District. You find them for me, and I will do a one pager that distills their academic performance increases into a clear and visual message.

00329 History of Education – 5 Act Play

April 1, 2010

Economic History => Future

A recent Op-Ed by David Brooks* NY Times lamented the lack of a comprehensive history of modern economics, based on the stunning consequences of the recent events. His framework for this history is in five Acts.

Act I. Economic man was a crude representation of individual human nature who was totally rational and only interested in maximizing his personal benefit. During my late 1970’s MBA I took several economic courses, ran econometric models, and was always one variable away from solutions that matched the data. We actually used humans with quantified util’s as part of the utility functions and had grand arguments.

Act II. During the past several decades, Herbert Simon addressed not-perfectly rational people, and Gary Becker saw behaviors that were not just self interest, like having children. Others saw that people have biases, and many make non-objective decisions.

Act III. Is a discontinuity with the economic crisis of 2008-2009. The incredibly sophisticated econometric/financial models built over the decades failed to predict the wiping out of $50 trillion in global wealth and the huge human suffering that followed.

Act IV. is starting with soul searching that is far from a consensus on why the economic intellectual agenda-setters failed to see the oncoming train wreck. In the physical sciences, real problems are solved and stay solved. In economics, thinkers cycle in and out of fashion. Economists are now talking about the individual, love, virtue, social relationships and imagination!

Act V. David Brooks predicts that the current field of rational economics will be blown-up. Human beings cannot be addressed with universal laws like physics. It will become a subsection of history and moral philosophy focusing on individuals within contexts. The lessons learned will be one by one, like art, not science.

Education History => Future

Any lesson’s to learn for educational transformation from the economics’ meltdown? Probably not since Brook’s history is over a few years, and education’s a few century. But let’s walk along the path of economics anyway and lay in education at their milestones.

Act I. Early 1700’s: Prussians founded the highly structured lecture, recitation, seat-work system for the select group of aristocratic youth.

Act II. Late 1800’s: This model one-size-fits-all factory like system was applied to all children through universal education.

Act III. Middle of the 2000th century the system expanded to meet expectations that women, minorities and special needs children should also graduate. There was a significant increase in funding for all education with the major gains in special education. The education crisis emerged over 2 decades not the 2 years for the economic crisis.  Academic performance gains stagnated in the mid 1970’s. In 1980’s the system was shocked to learn that the Iron Curtain countries were out-performing American schools by a significant margin. The final blow came from a Bolivian immigrant Jaime Escalante who transformed L.A.’s tough Garfield High School. He blew away the myth that inner-city kids can not perform at the highest levels (movie: Stand and Deliver). He graduated more advanced placement Calculus students than all but four other U.S. high schools.

Act IV. The initial reactions were reforms and restructuring that moved the deck chairs but did not focus on hard issues. Innovations such as charter schools, choice, career ladders, No Child Left Behind, etc. were tried by many states but success was fleeting. Summative testing to standards is becoming a piece of the solution. But as any industrial quality expert knows the only way to have quality products out the door is heavy investment in design, training and equipment investment for all aspects of the cycle. After three decades of action academic performance and graduation rates remain flat. Society’s demands for job and college ready students, 21st century critical thinking and a globally competitive economy have soared. Fortunately ideas with broad and significant success factors such as eLearning, individualized instruction, digital content, teacher-student centered focus, mastery not seat time funding, online learning, and personal learning plans have started to emerge.

Act V. The 21st century will not see a blow-up of K-12 education like David Brooks’ forecast for the economics field. I believe the coming transformation from the factory model of the Prussians to massively-individualized education is definitely in the cards. This transformation will be shaped by the decades-old Benjamin Bloom studies of the tutor-student relationship and the individualization methods for gifted and other special education students from the 1970’s. Serving moral, social and emotional yearnings and ambitions of individual students will be the driving factor bringing renewed growth of both academic achievement and graduation rates.

The most import lesson from the economic tragedy is that the focus of education must not be on the “school” but rather on the multifaceted context of the student. Of course, this is not news to any successful teacher. Like Jaime Escalante they know how to ward off the Prussian structure to serve the needs of their individual students.

*: David Brooks, Op-Ed  The Return of History New York Times, March 25, 2009

00315 Innovation: Fraught With Peril and Opportunity

March 15, 2010

Successful innovation has a sequence of phases:

1. Invention, early adoption, rapid acceptance by one market;

2. Expansion into multiple markets;

3. Legacy system transformation driven by outside disruptive innovations based on technology, societal and economic changes;

4. Dying or being absorbed into an emerging innovation.

Innovation is a highly unpredictable process. It is rife with unintended consequences and

1. Our system of education was invented by the Prussians in the early 1700’s to educate sons of the elite. It reached the U.S. market by the late 1880’s with the compulsory education movement.

2. The market served expanded from boys to boys and girls during the first half of the 1900’s and to minority populations and special education students in the last half of the 1900’s. The dominant mode of innovation has been market extensions through government mandates and significant increases in government funding. The result has been huge increases in student learning time, graduation rates and economic and societal benefits.

3. During the 1970’s and early 1980’s the legacy system invented by the Prussians had expanded to all available markets. But societal needs demanded a change to include quality with quantity. The emerging social need was for K-12 to educate college and career ready students for the 21st century. The demand curve had crossed over the supply curve and the scramble was on. Change was in the air.

Hope for rapid success has faded and we seem stuck in phase 3. Inside the system, grade inflation worked for awhile, but was then discredited. Outside advocacy communities came on strong with whole language, charter schools, school choice, essential skills, standards, school improvements, test score data to guide decision making and a host of others. Many are based on market-competitiveness models.

A recent book by an intellectual leader in this movement, Diane Ravitch is: “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How testing and Choice are Undermining Education.” Dr. Ravitch wants to return to the traditional school structure. Why she is doing an about face on her 20 years of change efforts is explored in an Education Week  article, March 10, 2010 www.edweek.org .

Chester E. Finn Jr. of the Thomas Fordham Institute, a long time associate of Diane Ravitch, agrees with her depressing analysis of the data. But he espouses renewed efforts to destroy the old structure and replace it with the new.

With humility to their much greater depth of wisdom and knowledge, I believe both are wrong. Reverting to innovation Phase 2 or jumping over Phase 3 to Phase 4 makes little sense.

We have 20 years of data which show that a dozen piecemeal approaches do not work. Even added together, there has been scant increase in academic performance of K-12 education as a whole. There is a big difference between statistically significant improvement and significant improvement in effect factor.

We must reach the effect factor goal of at least one sigma (or letter grade) improvement across the board for all 60 million students for all courses and grade levels. We must increase the graduation rate to an effective 95% whether through formal or informal means of education. Graduating students must be prepared and eager to prosper in a world that requires life-span learning.

The 300 year old innovation of grouping teachers and students within the traditional organizational structure needs to make the transformation with a long strategic system design approach. Outside advocates have a huge role to play to support the transformative changes in school finance, human resources, technology based systems, curriculum, data and decision making. But the real innovation adopters within Phase 3 are our leaders and teachers currently within the education system. Together we can pull it off.

00308 National Educational Technolgy Plan

March 8, 2010

The 2010 National Educational Technology Plan from the U.S. Department of Education has just been released in draft form. A blue ribbon higher education committee had been working since last spring to develop the plan. They took input at the 2009 NECC meetings and solicited input from the education community. The Obama administration has set the goal of raising college completion rates to 60 percent by 2020. One of the means is to have a computing device in the hands of every K-12 student. The committee addressed this goal by focusing on five strategic areas: classroom learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity.

NETP Executive Summary 14pp: http://tinyurl.com/yeljk8a

NETP pdf 114pp: http://tinyurl.com/yzcvwr4

Note: I called US Dept. of Ed Publications, and this plan has not yet been published in printed form for public access.

Education Week article 1pp: http://tinyurl.com/ylgljkr

SRI International’s site for NETP including community comments: https://edtechfuture.org

My comments from last fall are in their “Statements” section, about half way down the slider’s bar, starting with:

Innovation funding

and ending 20 comments later with:

14. eLearning research community of practice portal.

Last fall I wrote a seven page blog on the NETP planning process. I expressed concerns about the lack grand challenges and forward looking innovation. But my main concern was on the process itself.

After reading through the 90 text pages of this draft plan, most of my foundational concerns are covered. Much more important this work has reached a depth of detail and intellectual focus not often seen in this type of work. Many plans are at 40,000 feet. They are chuck full of situational assessments, imperatives and wishful but unrealistic thinking. This draft plan lays a solid and comprehensive foundation for the immense effort that faces all of us. Gone are is the word reform. In its place is the word that applies to our turning point – transformation.

I recommend that each of you take two to three hours out of you busy schedule for a bit of life-span learning.  Read and ponder the paragraphs this National Educational Technology Plan. Think about the role you can play in pulling it off.

I like the fact that this is a draft plan. Effective plans for implementation must be flexible and continuously evolving. So let’s keep it in draft form with continuous additions and updates as we get busy in the field, making it happen.

00208 Crisis and Opportunity

February 8, 2010

There is some myth floating out there that the Chinese word for crisis also means opportunity. Maybe its true. With selective recognition of winners in the enterprise arena we have the following start up years and follow-on analysis*:

Proctor and Gamble: Panic of 1837

General Electric and IBM: Long Depression of 1873

Hyatt Hotels: Eisenhower Recession

Fed EX:  Oil Crisis

Microsoft and Apple: Bear Market 1974-75

We all know the saying, “If you can’t fix it, feature it.” Entrepreneurs view problems as business opportunities. As civic entrepreneurs we need to address the current economic situation with a burst of optimism and redouble our efforts.

Just after the last crisis peaked the most successful businesses had 3 times the growth during 2000-2003 as their slowest counterparts. During our current crisis from 2006-2009 there was little differentiation. But during 2009 the gap is starting to widen again. I know of no data to show that private sector models can apply to the public sector. But I do know that entrepreneurship works in both, with startup enterprises and the Peace Corps being prime illustrations of entrepreneurial success.

Assuming that governance of K-12 education might just fit this cycle, now is the time to push for innovation. Apple thinks so. With its blizzard of hype and fawning over the iPad, it has tapped a huge opportunity to lead businesses and consumers out of the crisis. Why and how? Because Apple has a system of applications, content and solution devices that can be readily adopted.

Microsoft has dominance in the legacy market. Apple is the disruptive innovation poised for rapid growth. Ed Tech is like the Microsoft partial solution and eLearning is like the Apple system solution.

The timing is right for the elearning approach to make the next great leap forward within K-12 education. Let’s assume the private sector models are right, and we can swing for the fences with our public sector challenge of eLearning transformation.

Note: With the Super Bowl behind us, I can switch to baseball analogies.

*Michael Moe, NeXt Up

91211 National Effort Effect Factor

December 11, 2009

I recently heard of Project – – -. They seem to be the same type of organizations with similar players that for 20+ years have been working at the national level to reform education. Their results have been non-significant increases in academic achievement. In the eLearning arena they  have gotten a whole 5% penetration of this disruptive innovation: classroom, online and hybrid. What I like is they have finally moved out of the mode of pronouncing the latest situation assessment, recommending pilots, and professing wishful thinking. They are now addressing the hard reality of funding, data, system transformation and system financial analysis. .

Improving student achievement. While almost every other market segment has seen substantial improvements attributed to technology, public education has seen only isolated benefits. This study seeks to define technology models that can lead to improvements in student achievement.

We have been saying this forever, but finally they have started to talk about market segments and effects of technology based transformation – they are finally getting it.

Evaluating the total financial impact of technology on state budgets. To date, little work has been done, beyond assessing costs, to show the connection between educational technology and state budgets. It is time to take into consideration cost savings, cost avoidance and revenue enhancements that are direct results of investments in educational technology.

The 2004 eSATS system design => ten year financial model did pioneering work in this area of eLearning investments on cost savings and cost avoidance, but not on revenue enhancements. The scope was limited to  the state of Arizona with 1 million students. In the middle 1990’s IBM out of Colorado had a simple model of revenue enhancements based on better educated folks, and resulting lower prison population.

I appreciate the use of the cross-industry transformation model.  In my engineering specialty when they stopped talking about flying machines and started using the system descriptor of aviation it took off (steam locomotives => railroads, etc.). We need to stop talking about educational technology and refocus on the system descriptor I have been pitching for a decade: elearning.

Hope continues to grow.