Beginning of end for ETS? Notes from the SF EduTech @Meetup #EdTech #k12

One thing is for sure.  There will be no dearth of choices for adaptive learning math-in-the-box tools.  This was my fourth SF EdTech Meetup, and included my 13th, 14th, and 15th encounters, respectively, with young, bright-eyed founders developing cloud-based learning environments for basic math instruction.  Why wouldn’t they do this?  Math instruction, at the lower levels anyway, lends itself easily to algorithmic representation.  Add some cute flash characters with big eyes, badges for meeting learning goals, and a rollicking MIDI soundtrack – bam, disruptive blended learning tool.  Good luck to you, boys!  May the cutest avatars win.

Also present at this event were Jon Bishke of Edufire, and Alan Louie of Imaginek12.  Each spoke about the growing EdTEch movement.  Bishke painted a post apocalyptic vision for the future of post secondary education in which open access to courseware in a flat landscape will put the traditional institutions, “except Harvard and Stanford, of course,” out of business.  Louie was a bit more tethered to this planet.  He described some of the startups that are emerging from the first Imaginek12 incubation period.  Suffice it to say, that there is going to be some much needed competition in the learning management software space.

The exchange of the night for me was with Dave Blake, marketing director of Zinch.  Blake is onto startup number two.  Blake described his long term vision for MotionSpark, still in alpha, and had my attention.

From the MotionSpark website..

Motion Spark is an online quiz database which directly challenges the conventional paradigms that learning is finite, success is defined as a ratio of correct to incorrect, and cheating is bad. It is populated by individual contributions, and utilizes game mechanics and social media to reward users and encourage participation.

Eventually, it seems that Blake would like to challenge the lock that institutions like ETS have on our assessment system.  Sounds good to me.  Credentialing is an important part of our human endeavor, but I would like to see more than just ETS and the College Board setting the trajectory for the respect we afford one another’s accomplishments.

In has only taken Amazon fifteen years to change how we read books.  I’m hoping MotionSpark will do their work in 10.  That’s when my kids will both be in high school.

About Jack West

Teacher, team member, father, neighbor.

2 Responses

  1. Great post Jack, keep these coming. I rely on the edtech updates and reports you provide and take your insights and infuse them into my classroom. Without your work I am not sure I would know what is happening in edtech beyond Microsoft’s Word and Internet Explorer!

  2. Jeannie

    Great! I think that this is the key to effecting real change in schools … in your lovely phrase, to set a new trajectory for respect we afford one another’s accomplishments.The ETS has way too much power … we do not need to sit with/be stuck with multiple choice tests as a proxy for achievement or understanding … even if they were ever truly that. We are stuck because of convenience, because a machine can scan them and because ETS is big business with big corporate voices.

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