Blended Learning, Cost of Education, Domestic, K-12, Open Source Education, Opinion, Personalized Learning, Required, Startups, Technology, Universities & Colleges, Venture Capital - Written by on Saturday, October 13, 2012 6:00 - 0 Comments

Heard: A Journey To The Silicon Valley Of Edu Disruption

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Daniel Hoherd via Compfight

Kevin Carey, the director of New America’s Education Policy program, wrote recently in the article “The Siege of Academe,” that Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have the potential to “breach the wall of higher education with disruptive technology” and help cure the college cost crisis by introducing much-needed competition from low-cost, on-line providers.

“We may not know exactly who it is that’s going to develop the application that really starts to eat away at these traditional business models,” Carey said. “But I feel like, with more confidence, we can say it’s going to be someone by almost just the share math of it.”

Carey writes:

Over the past few years, every new day has seemed to bring news of another higher education technology startup company promising to change the world. According to the National Venture Capital Association, investment in education technology jumped from $100 million in 2007 to nearly $400 million last year. Clearly, something is going on. So, on Easter weekend earlier this year, I flew to Silicon Valley to find out what, and why. The result was a long article in Washington Monthly, called “The Siege of Academe.” It was published earlier this week and you can read it here.

During a meeting on Sand Hill Road, the fabled home of Silicon Valley venture capitalism, one investor told me that the basic model of firms like his making huge startup bets was ripe for disruption. A new breed of venture firms has taken to investing small amounts in start-ups, in the range of $25,000 to $50,000. These firms recognize that the cost of starting a new company is far less than it used to be, which means that investors can spread their money around to more entrepreneurs and ideas. And the entrepreneurs themselves can “fail faster,” a crucial idea in an ecosystem driven by experimentation and groping around for the new new thing.

Instead of shooting for the moon by building a beautiful, expensive product and hoping like hell that the whole world comes to your door, the idea now is to build the “minimal viable product,” get it to the market quickly, watch what happens, and iterate like crazy. Because the Cloud is so cheap, it doesn’t take much in the way of money to do this. Because the scale of the entire world is so large, the potential to get big is vast. If that doesn’t work, everyone can move on to the next thing with relatively little time and money wasted.

In the future, anyone with an idea will be able to build a rocket, aim it at the gigantic trillion-dollar market of education, and light the fuse.

What I don’t think will change are the underlying economic and cultural forces driving the larger trend. It’s not just that the tools, money, and opportunity are there for the taking. It also has to do with the particular mindset of the people who live in Silicon Valley. Their sense that the education industry is ripe for disruption is nothing new.

…. The difference is that in Silicon Valley, more than perhaps any other place in the entire world, people have been trained and acculturated to believe that if a huge system doesn’t make sense, it should be swept away and replaced by something better—and that they, themselves, could make that happen, and reap untold riches in the doing, by combining virtually unlimited access to capital with the greatest software engineers in the world, people who are increasingly able to reach out to the entire planet through the Web of telecommunication to give them what they want, when they want, in an instant, for free. How and when those people reach higher education will be one of the fascinating dramas of our time.

Via New America Foundation

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2013-02-15 16:00

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