Thursday, January 06, 2011

Pearson's Outlook Depressingly Good

Bill Fitzgerald:

And it's fun watching the music industry and the publishing industry flail about, largely because the textbook industry is next. The textbook industry has been able to buffer their fall because they have a captive audience. Textbook industry involvement in the development of new standards can be seen as a way for the industry to play a role in designing the cages in which they want to lock districts, schools, teachers, and learners for the next several years.

But the internet solves many of the logistical issues related to distribution. And people can learn without traditional textbooks. And people are voting with their feet - by running away, fast - from delivery models that tether content to a specific channel or distributor.

The problem with this -- at least as far as ELA goes -- is that the value is not in either novel content or the delivery system, but the scoring algorithms, copyright clearance of source material and metadata. And, in particular, if the metadata part was easy to get people to do collaboratively over the internet, it would have already been done, but it clearly hasn't been.

In the future there is no English curriculum. There are texts, there are eight analytical academic writing tasks to apply to the texts, there is scoring of those tasks, there is tracking of the scores, and there is selection of the next set of texts and/or instructional interventions.

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