A Dismal Future for EdTech

An article titled “12 Companies Transforming Education To Watch Next Year” might be an interesting read if not for the fact it appears in Forbes Magazine, which calls itself “The Capitalist Tool”. And that the list is a very odd mix, with very little truly “transformative”.

One example, ForClass is described as “platform and distribution network” that “increases [student] participation and accountability in the classroom while reducing prep time for professors”. Sounds like any number of learning management systems already in place, all of which do little more than support traditional teaching. Same for Flashnotes which is creating a “marketplace” for college students to sell their lecture notes.

On the other side of the classroom, Panorama Education, “run by two data heads from Yale”, wants to improve teacher evaluations by creating “scientifically valid” surveys that are “cheap, modern and effective”. But at least they have “impressive” backers like noted educators Mark Zuckerburg and Ashton Kutcher, so they must be on to something.

DonorsChooseAndela (which helps youth in Africa learn programming skills), Edmodo, Schoology, all doing good work in their respective spaces but are not shaking up the education process. 

And then there’s the media and Bill Gates’ favorite educational revolutionary, Khan Academy, which basically moves the classic fact-based lecture onto the web.

Transform education? Hardly.

I doubt any of the companies on this list will even produce the kind of extreme profits venture capitalists, or the capitalist tools who read Forbes, are looking for.

Certainly it’s hard to imagine they represent the kind of edtech that will be “taking by storm schools, students and the process of learning across the globe”.

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