SXSW: Venture Capitalists on Future of Tech in Education

A venture capitalist panel at SXSW interactive conference has discussed the future of education technology. The panelists, Mitch Kapor, Phillip Bronner and Rob Hutter claimed to have a broad vision of investing that looked for technology to be more than just successful but that also created social value.

There are three components of the education system:

1. Content: The educational information to be read, learned and understood.

2. Mastery: Developing the ability to not just regurgitate the information, but provide analysis, critical thinking and demonstration of skills.

3. Certification: Demonstrating mastery of the content to the outside world (through diplomas, certifications and other evidence).

The panelists unanimously agreed that content should be untethered from the classroom, as it can be consumed anywhere at any time, and technology that aids teachers spend more time coaching students in mastery of the material would have immense social value.

New web technologies, like social media, are bringing educational technology to an inflection point, where technology can create rich experiences that deliver education online, with dramatically reduced cost.

Initial blended learning studies have been promising, such as at KIPP Empower Academy in California where 98% of below average students ended up meeting or exceeding average performance standards. The challenge now lies in successfully expanding the programs and getting the same results with 20 million students that they did with 20 students

Technology in the classroom is a hot topic right now, generating extreme interest from the government and some school groups. With recent crops of US students showing poor performance in science, math and engineering there is concern that something must be done if the US wants to continue playing its part in the global economy. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said previously that US schools cannot continue to ignore technological competence among their students as this competence will soon be compulsory in the global arena.

03 21, 2012