If you are an entrepreneur in education, you most likely receive the weekly EdSurge newsletter each Wednesday. And if you are like me and pretty much every edtech entrepreneur I know, you reluctantly read through it well aware that once you’re finished you will just feel bad about yourself. But you read it anyway, becoming particularly underwhelmed when you reach the Ka’Ching section. As an entrepreneur who has avoided raising venture capital and grown organically from Revenue (gasp!), starting way before building a business in education was “cool”, I feel more empathy for teachers than ever before. Yes, it’s great that there is a large amount of focus on innovation and improvement in education, and entrepreneurs, investors, and corporations are all paying significantly more attention to the edu world. But in the process are we drowning ourselves with buzz words and this false perception that the edu market can be just like any other market ripe for disruption? It’s interesting — disruption can have both a negative and positive connotation, and the sense I get is we could very well be on the verge of negative. We are throwing technology in the classroom without much thought to the infrastructure, and with the misconception it will always be free, but later the free gets a “-mium” appended to it and we’re trapped.
Is this really the right way to effectively change education? And, why does it need to be changed at a widespread level? There are a lot of great things happening in classrooms – I see it in classrooms I visit, I hear it from teachers who email us, I watch it in student-generated videos made with our software. Why don’t we simply foster the great things that are already happening and do so in more authentic ways? I’ve dealt with plenty of naysayers – that my little edu business is a “labor of love” and we have “1995 software licensing” . Well, we do in fact work hard to love the creativity we foster in classrooms and – well, yes, we are using that old fashioned business model where people exchange money for the value of our product. And, we don’t have a patent-based technology to take classrooms to the moon. We have a very basic software that taps into every child’s clever imaginative mind. It’s simple, real, and bringing to light the positive things already happening in education, no disruption required.