July 27, 2012
Dear Super Hero Hackers, Rock Star Coders and Punk Technologists,
Hey homies! There’s this tool* that I’ve been dreaming of and know that a rock star coder could build it in their sleep. I need a way to define the standards by which we can define and celebrate educational technology that succeeds in the physical, financial, and political reality common to Title 1 schools. I want a tool that will allow educational technology entrepreneurs and companies to determine whether their product is being adopted and used in Title 1 schools.
As a Teacher in Residence at ImagineK12, I have the privilege of working with the Super Heroes behind tomorrow’s most badass ed. tech. I need this app because I want these entrepreneurial rock stars to have a more detailed picture of their product’s adoption rate. Beyond this, I also need an app. to act as an important signal of any products success in reaching the students and teachers who are often the most underserved by the current education system.**
The data generated by this tool is just the starting point. From there, its going to take some Reiss-style swagger to obtain the feedback you need to understand whether the adoption was voluntary or mandated, short lived or long standing, and ultimately its capacity to optimize teaching practice and student outcomes. While its considered extraordinary for any product to gain viral adoption, its an even bigger miracle for it to happen in the Title 1 ecosystem.***
There’s an upcoming remixedk12 hackathon, which is aiming to be a weekend of building web and mobile apps to help K-12 teachers in the classroom. If I weren’t a judge, I’d be submitting the following idea for hackers to spend time on. This tool could easily utilize the database currently available from the department of education and allow a company to cross reference it with their list of current users.
Its one thing to define Title 1 Tech, but its another to create the tools that entrepreneurs and companies need to measure rate of adoption at Title 1 schools and iterate accordingly. For those who are Super Hero Hackers, here’s a link to the DOE’s database of Title 1 schools. Once made, I would challenge every ed. tech. companies out there-especially those that define themselves by investment rounds-to use it. This would be the first step to proving your product is worthy of the Title 1 distinction, and moreover that you’re the disruptive innovator you think you are. Its not enough to define the problem, we’ve got to solve it.
*I am describing the function I dream of, but you’re the boss when it comes to form. I leave it in your genius hands to determine whether this tool would best be made into an app, website, download, program or transformer action figure.
**In a recent talk, Farb Nivi of Grockit discussed the importance of knowing the single greatest risk to your endeavor’s success. As a teacher on a mission, my single greatest risk is that ed. tech. companies won’t feel compelled to bridge the digital divide by making their products spread virally in the most underserved-and often hardest to penetrate-sections of the market. There are models out there that serve this population’s needs and one can take a note from Farb’s Grockit for Good initiative as just one model for doing so.
*** The reasons for this are far too complex to cover in this post, but I’m currently envisioning an absurd infographic to illustrate some of the one’s I’ve personally encountered.
Coming Soon: TITLE 1 TECH. (part 3) – Case Studies of Title 1 Tech.