Developing Schoolwide Application In-House

Jul 25, 2012

KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY: “Buy or build?” That’s the question posed by Mr. Jason Tomassini in the Edweek article on in-house district edtech development. The question is important for educators and entrepreneurs. Rightfully or not, schools are built around processes not products, and the ability to customize #edtech around specific school or district processes means educators don't need to search for apps that best suit their needs.

Meanwhile vendors don't necessarily have a strong incentive to focus on school or district-specific processes when there is a strong business case for products that scale. Plus a number policies and funding opportunities are skewed towards Big Data -- that is, collecting and analyzing data across any number of schools, districts, or states. A different solution in every classroom or school makes that a difficult task.

There is some middle ground however. As Mr. Tomassini points out, charter schools, which are significantly less encumbered by educational bureaucracy, “have often created forward-looking software-development environments.” Case in point is E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, where an in-house video sharing system became LearnZillion. With initiatives like the Learning Registry and MyData (both mentioned above), there may be room for big vendors and in-house developers to offer products while students and teachers choose what works for them (and their data). Have an opinion on who should be building your classroom tools? Let us know.

Developing Schoolwide Application In-House

Jul 25, 2012

KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY: “Buy or build?” That’s the question posed by Mr. Jason Tomassini in the Edweek article on in-house district edtech development. The question is important for educators and entrepreneurs. Rightfully or not, schools are built around processes not products, and the ability to customize #edtech around specific school or district processes means educators don't need to search for apps that best suit their needs.

Meanwhile vendors don't necessarily have a strong incentive to focus on school or district-specific processes when there is a strong business case for products that scale. Plus a number policies and funding opportunities are skewed towards Big Data -- that is, collecting and analyzing data across any number of schools, districts, or states. A different solution in every classroom or school makes that a difficult task.

There is some middle ground however. As Mr. Tomassini points out, charter schools, which are significantly less encumbered by educational bureaucracy, “have often created forward-looking software-development environments.” Case in point is E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, where an in-house video sharing system became LearnZillion. With initiatives like the Learning Registry and MyData (both mentioned above), there may be room for big vendors and in-house developers to offer products while students and teachers choose what works for them (and their data). Have an opinion on who should be building your classroom tools? Let us know.

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