Articles Posted in Education Technology

Watching my kids play World of Warcraft in 2005,  I had a moment of clarity about video games and learning.  At root WoW is a Learning Management System (LMS) with Orcs and dragons in the presentation layer.  But grokking that potential and translating it into improved outcomes in school is a huge leap.

Connecting developmental psychology, brain science, and play is critical to seeing the whole picture. The Game Believes In You does just that.

Ten years ago, after reading Jim Gee’s What Videogames Have to Teach Us About Literacy and Learning , Raph Kosters A Theory of Fun for Game Design, Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman’s Rules of Play, and Steven Johnson’s Everything Bad is Good For You I had exhausted the canon of the early aughts.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are here to stay.  Publishing, despite the rumors, is not dead.  The real question is not “if” but “how” these two options will co-exist in the instructional materials market.

A starting point is sorting out where each type of resource makes the most sense. For me the two most important criteria are the degree of complexity in crafting the materials and the ongoing requirements for maintenance.  How these two criteria map against content looks something like this:

OER vs Print
Degree of Complexity

In January 2001 as the dot com boom burst online education site went out of business overnight, literally. Coverage tended to focus on the employees – who ultimately filed a class action lawsuit for back pay and 401k contributions.

Lost in that ugly coverage was the blunt reality for teachers and schools that the new era of on-line content had a very dark side. Teachers who were relying on wwwrrr’s materials on January 9th were left with absolutely nothing on January 10th. They had no warning.

When schools buy a textbook they own the thing. If the vendor stops offering the book the school still has the thing. With cloud-based solutions schools are buying a license to a service. If the vendor stops offering the service it evaporates. Teachers rightly want some assurance that if they integrate a useful solution into their lesson plans that they can use it for several years.

“During the gold rush its a good time to be in the pick and shovel business.”  Mark Twain

There are large amounts of capital flowing into the education publishing market today.  It appears we are experiencing a small gold rush as savvy technology investors bet that the digital transition in education will yield significant returns to those doing the disrupting.

Some basic facts:

Frank has a great post over on Geekwire that does a great job of explaining why Dumbo Drops of tech don’t work in schools.

The question he didn’t completely address is why do people keep making this mistake?

One explanation is that a massive initiative that “attacks” a “problem” is far sexier than a thoughtful program to incrementally improve classroom practice. Don’t forget that many Superintendents are politicians. These things get headlines.

Vicki Bigham and I did a show with Larry Jacobs on Education Talk Radio this morning about EdNET.  We had some fun bantering about the conference and trends in the industry.  I got a chance to brag on the Packers and shared that I own an actual stinking badge (see below).





FilamentLogoI’m jazzed to report that I started as Filament Games’ new CEO this week. I consider Filament the global leader in crafting learning games with an emphasis on the classroom. Over the past eight years Filament has worked with more than 40 organizations, built over 50 learning games, and won numerous awards. It is a very cool company doing important work.

Long time readers know that I am passionate about tackling the power of games for formal learning (see the Serious Games thread), so this is a natural move.

The learning games space is experiencing a boom – more than half of the most recent SBIR grants from the DOE were for cutting edge learning games. Filament was one of the awardees. Games are a bright spot in a troubled industry.

The Common Core Standards are causing a lot of angst across the world of education.  Fortunately Brandt Redd is here to help.

Over at Of That he lays it all out in a lucid and well linked overview “The Common Core State Standards – For My Concerned Friends.”   He cuts through the BS clearly and cleanly and describes how CCSS fits in the overall scheme of the Gates Foundation’s vision for personalized education.

Last week’s announcement by the Republican National Committee (RNC) that they are opposed to CCSS has added to the uncertainty hanging over the direction of the market in the next 3-4 years.  If CCSS becomes more than minor skirmish in the political wars we’ll have a period of extended uncertainty about how materials should be crafted.  The angry maw of lens hungry politicians could make a six course meal of various conspiracy theories.

Last Tuesday the Secretary of Education said

“I think we should be moving from print to digital absolutely as fast as we can over the next couple of years. Textbooks should be obsolete.”

He was clear that he sees the digital transformation in schools as a “critical game changer” for the American education system.

He gave three reasons for the advocating a rapid shift:

here_doormatiPads in the classroom are all the rage in the education publishing market – somedays the oxygen for discussing anything but learning tablets has been sucked out of the room.

As we move beyond the giggling crush stage there are a couple of points to consider that might give publishers a more grounded perspective on where we really are in the adoption cycle.

Falling Off The Learning Cliff