Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Educational Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century

With the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year quickly approaching, (August 14 for me!) I wanted to look at why some projects succeed and others fail. This is important to those of us who are involved in Educational Technology and how the changes in information will change how teachers teach and students learn. Today, I happened across a few blog posts and a news post from from the business field that might shed some light on the future of education and how educators might deal with it.

Presently, there is a summit at Stanford University, where Start Up CEO's are meeting and discussing which growth opportunities will fuel the expansion of the Internet and technology services. Unsurprisingly, these entrepreneurs identified teens as the group driving innovation within the Technology field. KGO-TV did a short piece on the conference and an interview with the host, Tony Perkins of Always On. Watch the Video here!

There were also three blog posts today that fit the idea of teachers becoming entrepreneurs of their own teaching. The first is from Guy Kawasaki's blog, "How to Change the World" and guest blogger, Glenn Kelman, the CEO of Redfin. His post, "On the Other Hand: The Flip Side of Entrepreneurship" listed several ideas that ring true for educators as we change the nature of how we teach. In reading this article, I could see how the motivations to join a start up tech firm (remember most lose money and die!) are very similar to becoming a teacher and how the process of building a start up and a school run parallel paths. The first item, "True believers go nuts at the slightest provocation," rings true with me, since it talks about Jerry Maguire type memos written late at night, outlining new or updated practices for the firm. Count me in, Guilty as charged!

The second blog post comes from Scott Adams', Dilbert Blog. In his "Career Advice" post, Scott makes the case that one of the best ways to get ahead is to be pretty good (top 25%) in more than one thing instead of being the best in only one thing. In education, we are often called upon to do more than what we were 'trained' to do in our student teaching programs. Working with students in extracurricular programs (coaching athletic teams, clubs, etc.) or serving in leadership roles as department chairpersons, WASC group leaders or serving on district level councils. While there are some great teachers that teach in one subject area during their entire teaching career, there are also many teachers that have had to 're-invent' themselves during their career, or had to show they could perform many different tasks to get the job initially. Being flexible and showing the ability to be good at more than one thing is definitely something that is valued in an educational environment and will become even more important in the future. I can count at least 20 different classes, roles, coaching assignments, etc. that I have performed during my tenure in the SMUHSD.

The last blog post I want to mention is David Warlick's, 2Cents Blog post titled, "History = Future?" In this post he makes the statement that classrooms are becoming places where media, technology and information come together and can create rich and deep learning environments for all students. He also states that all teachers and educational institutions will have to acknowledge three things in the next few years.
  • We are preparing children for a future we can not describe
  • We are preparing children, who as a generation, are enjoying a rich information experience outside-the-classroom.
  • We are preparing children within a new and dynamic information environment with new qualities that seem ready made for teaching and learning.
How are we, as teachers and professional educators, going to deal with these issues effectively and what role do other stakeholders (parents, community groups, business, etc.) have in the process?

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