SXSWEdu: Day 2 Highlights

Quick thoughts and quotes from day 2 on the morning of day 3:

Personalization and Persistence in Online Programs

  • You have to get the student data and then do something actionable with it, that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise – that second part is the struggle.
  • Agile development may need to seep into the classroom somehow to really make edtech work.
  • “Set it and forget it” doesn’t work except for maybe 5% of students who are already self-motivated; teachers/coaches are key.
  • Don’t use professional development as a crutch – it doesn’t make up for poor planning and implementation.
  • The data tagging/authoring piece is a real challenge for adaptive personalized software.

A Lord, a Lady, and a Deputy Walk Into a…

  • Richard Culatta: “Don’t just do more of what we’re doing now”; we could replicate “offline learning” in edtech, but that would be a big mistake; “digitizing traditional education processes” is a major thing that keeps him up at night
  • We have to remember that teachers aren’t professional data analysts; we have to take the data, analyze it, and give teachers something concrete and meaningful.
  • Lord Jim Knight: In England all money is spent at the individual school level; they have the opposite problem as the US (no economies of scale/impulsive & inefficient purchasing vs. overly long sales cycle, tremendous number of hoops to jump through to sell to large districts in US)
  • Culatta: Lots of bad products out there, need a premium on useable design
  • Audrey Watters: edtech is a “backwater” in many ways, with products in use that would be unacceptable in any other context
  • Watters: content available on the web is available across platforms/countries- we don’t take advantage of this enough
  • Watters: a major problem in edtech is that the purchaser is often completely separate from the users
  • Infrastructure limitations (old computers, slow/no internet) are still a huge barrier in many schools/districts

Building Schools into the Innovation Ecosystem

  • Watters: Top down control over innovation generally doesn’t work out
  • Jess Bialecki: need a balance of short-term innovation and long-term looking out for the well-being of students, teachers, and schools
  • Bialecki: Innovators often don’t understand how hard teachers’ jobs are; can’t easily change workflows just for an edtech product
  • Interesting questions about “unbundling” the different parts of the K-12 ed value proposition.

Asenath Andrews keynote quotes:

  • People always try to make the kids fit the school, instead of school fit the kids
  • Everything else is marketed to kids, but we don’t do a good job of marketing education to kids
  • Kids do what you expect them to do
  • You don’t need shoes – you need wings

See you at day 3!

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