|It's ed tech start-up companies vs. the oligopoly at Stanford conference.|
Silicon Valley tech companies, conferencing at Stanford, are trying to become the "Facebook of education," writes Lauren Hepler in the Silicon Valley Business Journal ("Online kindergarten? Tech bets on K-12 disruption"). The potential for superprofits has Valley heads spinning.
Hepler points out that, overall, the market for education is massive. She says the $1.5 trillion US education industry accounts for roughly 10 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, or the second-biggest sector after healthcare,
After meeting with power philanthropist Bill Gates, tech entrepreneur Mick Hewitt, co-founder and CEO of MasteryConnect, sees the looming implementation of government “Common Core” standards for reading and math in elementary, middle and high schools as an unparalleled opportunity for startups in the field.
“I believe we are truly at an inflection point,” Hewitt said at last weeks K-12 education technology event hosted by the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab, or VLAB. “I would be wrong if I said the Common Core and the dollars around it haven’t driven a lot of the activity for us.”But these techie startups are up against corporate conglomerates that continue to dominate the K-12 market, writes Hepler.
“There was one word that kept me and my co-founders up at night,” Hewitt said at the VLAB event Thursday as he clicked to a presentation slide emblazoned with a Monopoly-style logo that read “Oligopoly”He explained that a “marriage to textbooks” sold to schools by companies like Pearson and McGraw-Hill has for years blocked new entrants from providing educational alternatives.
But, Scott Drossos, the senior vice president of one-on-one learning for Pearson, said that although his company “has been accused of being acquisitive” — or buying up promising startups in the field — he sees monetization as a fundamental question not to be ignored.
Yes, monetization -- a keyword in the new lexicon of "public" education.