Monday, August 11, 2008

Four Things Policy Makers Ought to Do In Ed-Tech

Doug tagged me; I've pretty much got a canned answer.


Sylvia said...

So here's what I wonder about.

If free curriculum is part of the answer, it seems like only people who can afford it will make curriculum. That's a pretty narrow range of folks. Your two examples from the previous post are:

1. - this was developed by Wireless Generation, who made their money from the DIBELS mandate of Reading First. When they found they couldn't sell it, they put it online for free. But essentially, they can afford to give away this product because they are making lots of money on other products. Essentially, it's marketing, like giving away "free" t-shirts at a conference. Somebody is paying for it.

2. Concord Consortium (Tinker) - most of their money comes from NSF and other govt. grants. These kinds of grants tend to go to well-established institutions, supporting people who are already well endowed. CC happens to be one of the few progressive things that NSF supports.

The problem is that grants come to an end, and can't cover ongoing costs. Even the best open source communities have to have some money to keep the servers running.

So in the end, the "free" curriculum is actually funded by big companies or by the government. I think this means that the curriculum will be conservative, politically driven, and/or will suit the needs of the originating company. How could a small company afford to do this, or someone with an innovative idea who can't get NSF funding?

I'm not against the idea, just don't want to see govt. & large corporations be the only source of "free" - it always comes with an agenda.

Tom Hoffman said...

Hi Sylvia,

Who can afford to make curriculum now?

Sylvia said...

My question too.

Tom Hoffman said...

So do you have a counter-proposal or do you just not like mine. ;-)

Sylvia said...

Actually, I do like your proposal, I'm just curious what you think about my comments. Do you think that what I said is true, that it will cause a narrowing of available curriculum (from a pretty narrow starting point)? Or is there something you think I'm missing. Really just trying to have a conversation, I respect your opinions a lot!