New ed tech targets parents instead of schools

The “ed market” is a term people pass around in business mostly to talk about a career death sentence. The education market is slow, the budgets are ridiculously small, and the salespeople have to be in it for the love of learning because they are giving up a lot of money they could earn in the non-ed market.

But now ed tech is hot. It’s hip to do ed tech. Part of that is because Millenials are so hooked on the idea that work must have meaning, so it’s more likely that a top performer will go to the ed market today. But also, parents are spending way more money on education than ever before.

Will Richardson points out that McGraw Hill’s new electronic textbooks are marketed to parents more than schools. And Lisa Nielsen points out that Apple doesn’t care about school sales because their NYC Apple store sells more in an hour than they do all year to NYC public schools.

Meanwhile, the homeschool market is becoming more interesting. The number of homeschool parents is growing, they have money (most new homeschoolers are middle class), and there is no need to pretend that teachers need to teach once you are homeschooling, so then it’s fine to spend money on tech for self-directed learning.

I get excited when I see trends like this. Someone once told me that revolutionaries are not revolutionaries because they want to be different. They are revolutionaries because they see no other choice. That is how I feel about homeschooling, and every time I see signs that it’s getting more mainstream, I get happy. I like the feeling of fitting in.

7 replies
  1. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    The iPad explosion in our rural schools is telling; the teachers have complained about the distracting devices since I was in school (no Gameboys allowed!)

    Now they have to segue into being the advocates. One teacher commented that the iPads help her know her students better as individuals. That made me laugh in a sad way.

    It’s considered a benefit to know the student as an individual, and here’s a how a 500.00 device helped! Bureaucrats. Egad. Gadgets are bad, distracting, detrimental…OKAY, we’re paying for it, so reverse ship!

    I know my kids for free. No gadget required– the relationship comes from time and proximity.

    Our devices pull us apart then push us together. We get in our own pursuits, but then they want to show & tell about something they have found or done with Video Star or on YouTube.

  2. Daniel Baskin
    Daniel Baskin says:

    “…revolutionaries are not revolutionaries because they want to be different. They are revolutionaries because they see no other choice.”

    I’m holding on to this quote.

  3. Julie
    Julie says:

    Yes, “no other choice” sums it up for me. Why else would anyone want to be a revolutionary? It is hard. In fact for my state, I chose the least revolutionary way to homeschool, being part of a homeschool assistance program through the school distirct. It gave us instant access to other homeschooling kids to do field trips with and every once in a while a class and six biology labs for my teen. It gave me a group of homeschooling mothers so I didn’t have to figure everything out alone. I think programs like this are going to be the future of homeschooling for a lot of people. The one in our district is growing steadily.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is a really interesting model, Julie. It’s so progressive. I can’t tell – does the school district keep more money if they cooperate with homeschool families? I am always curious about the finances behind department of education actions.

      But regardless, I think feeling that there is a way to do homeschooling and not be all on your own is good. For anyone. It is so scary to start when you never dreamed you’d be doing it.


      • Julie
        Julie says:

        The school district gets one third the reimbursement from the state it would get for a student attending school full time. They have one full time teacher, who has also home schooled, and one half time teacher. They offer activities and you sign up or not. We usually do the hikes and holiday parties. The last activity we did was a skating party. There is a knitting class at a local yarn shop. My older daughter has done that. They have a couple book clubs. Some things require a fee, like the knitting class. Others don’t. We just need to have sixteen contacts per year. The activities count as contacts. If you would rather have a home visit you can do that.

        I have never felt any pressure to use particular method or curriculum. And unlike so many homeschool groups set up by parents, there are no religious overtones or requirements. You don’t have to be classical homeschooler or an unschooler. It is a mix of people. My younger daughter has a whole crew of friends because of this program. We even started a Girl Scout troop and the school lets us use their space to meet.

        Knowing I had those two teachers to help if I needed it and activities for my kids to make friends made it much less scary in the beginning.

  4. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    I enjoyed the post and the excellent links. Many times I just glance over the links but this time I spent some more time reading them.
    The link to Will Richardson was a brief post so I decided to look over his web site. I wanted to find out more about him, his experience, etc. so I read his “About” page. A “former public school educator for 22 years” and now “an outspoken advocate for change in schools and classrooms in the context of the diverse new learning opportunities that the Web and other technologies now offer.”
    So I became more interested and found links to his two TEDx talks. I thought they were really good. He highlights the inadequacies of the school system and then describes learning as it should be which sounded like unschooling. However, his goal is to reform the current school teaching methods within the schools. It’s a step in the direction towards unschooling and I thought he had good ideas that unschoolers could use.

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