BOON OR BANE? The online learning industry is "certain" to benefit from adoption of common education standards, according to Hiten Samtani of the NYTimes's SchoolBook blog, who sees a potential windfall for e-learning companies. On the practical side, well-established companies such as Blackboard and Education2020 won't have to develop fifty or so versions of the same product.
Critics contend edtech companies are just trying to make a quick buck. A recent Reuters piece on renewed investor optimism over edtech opportunities begins with what seems like a conspiracy: gathered at the "tony" University Club in Manhattan, investors salivate over the possibility that new academic standards will make schools look bad, at which point private vendors will step in and solve their woes.
Expect to see the controversies continue to flair: Edtech companies can't grow without investment capital. You can't get genuine investment capital (in contrast to a dusting of angel money) unless you dangle the promise of profits. So even entrepreneurs who are "mission driven"--maybe even former teachers--will have to make the case that there's gold in the hills. That kind of conversation will fuel unhappiness among educators, who feel like they're somehow getting left out.
What's an edsurgent to do? Take heart from the comment made by activist Diane Ravitch in Reuters: "Some of the products and services offered by private vendors may well be good for kids and schools, Ravitch said. But she has no confidence in their overall quality because 'the bottom line is that they're seeking profit first.'"
Hold fast to your mission. Seek quality.