Checking back with Amplify

Here’s an update to one of the EdTech companies I’m following – Amplify

Who is Amplify?
Education technology think tank. Data-driven power house. Formally known as Wireless Generation. A Brooklyn-based subsidiary of News Corp., Amplify is ahead of the game with their educational games, tablets, CC curriculum and assessments.

The need.
Why all this buzz of technology changing education? Using technology to enhance the classroom experience; those old Apple II’s from the seventies to overhead projectors and SMART boards is nothing new. But now we have Google Glass. We have UX developers thinking about accessibility and designing software addressing how people learn best. I’d say, the last ten years alone has drastically shifted education in a positive way.                                                                                                          

Education policy, standards and reform have made an impact not only in the classroom, but on the state and federal level too. The FCC is redesigning the E-rate bill, providing funding to schools trying to connect to the Internet. Which means…this can ‘enormously accelerate the deployment of tablets and other digital tools into classrooms.’

The tablet.
A breakthrough in the market, Amplify is the first company of its kind  to offer its own tablet with its own educational platform. But don’t get your undies in a bunch, the tablet is only deployed as a pilot program to a few select school districts around the US. Soon the tablet might be stocked on the shelves next to the iPads, Surface, Galaxy, and Kindles. And you could walk in to Best Buy expecting to buy a family-friendly Android tablet and leave with an Amplify. I predict in the coming years (or maybe December 2013) other companies like Pearson and McGraw Hill will follow suit and offer their own mobile devices.

MOOCs, not just for Higher Ed.
The three leading MOOC providers are EdX, Coursera and Udacity; and only EdX at the moment is offering classes to high school students. Amplify has also began offering MOOCs to AP computer science students looking to score on the College Board’s test. Now that’s a way for MOOCs not to destroy the name of our invaluable American education.

The mastermind.
Joel Klein, CEO said this about education technology, “We think that for education to really be affected by technology in a positive transformative way, the technology is going to have to learn more about teaching and learning.”

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MOOCs: Where you can get more bang for your buck

MOOCs, massive open online courses make taking classes at Harvard, MIT and UC Berkeley affordable. So affordable, they’re free. No GRE, no SAT, no GED required. Free education taught by Adjunct professors – smart ones too.

What kind of MOOC can I take?
Choose Principles of Aerodynamics or my wait list course, Big Data in Education. There are tons of classes; in subjects of math, sciences, humanities and more.

Stephen Colbert asked the CEO of EdX, ‘Isn’t the point of going to Harvard – you know, that school in Boston – to pay for the right to say you went to Harvard?’  Higher Education has turned into a class system and MOOCs are only forwarding it.

Peter Sacks, scholar, suggests MOOCs divide our students into the wealthy and the not wealthy. The haves and have-nots.  MOOCs are designed to allow ‘well-off students to attend colleges and universities…they alone will have real relationships with great faculty,’ Sacks says. Relationships should be with great campus classroom educators, not pre-recorded virtual classroom educators. Agreeingly, ‘In the American university, the students who can be heard are the ones who can pay for people to listen.’

I leave you free to comment. What do you believe is the role of Higher Education in the digital age?

Pearson, taking one step further towards digitalization

There is a lot of hupla surrounding technology in higher ed right now and I am only excited to see where it is going next.
Let me break some things down for you first:

BYOD/BYOT (bring your own device/technology encourages students to use their own devices to retrieve information)
MOOC (massive open online course, now being offered at Universities and the Museum of Natural History)

It is inevitable for the textbook industry to, well, ‘budgetize’ their print production to meet the needs of the market. Cengage, Macmillan, and Pearson are making their strides to adapt to a changing market by partnering with CMS providers, creating textbooks that are far less traditional black-and-white paper and more full multimedia experiences and recently, acquiring small startups. Pearson, for example bought Learning Catalytics, software for teachers to collect and track a student’s retention and feedback during a lecture in real-time. [This could be used to prompt classroom discussions in both lower grades and seminars alike]. Pearson also continues to grow their eBook library, offers access codes providing resources to an accompaniment of MyLabs and is surely improving that drag-and-drop feature many like. But if decreasing the needs of traditional books being sold at college libraries and being used across classrooms, eventually focusing on an online curriculum or very best, a blended learning environment, what will this mean for professors? We are redefining the textbook and redefining the classroom experience right along with it. If textbooks are fading, will colleges jump on the wagon to offer MOOC-based curriculums?

Currently EdX, Udacity and Coursera are the three largest MOOC providers. They provide free classes out on the web (hence open courseware) to unenrolled students. ‘Students’ in the broad sense of the word… The Museum of Natural History recently joined Coursera in offering development courses to public school science teachers in NYC and some colleges have adopted the model ”flipping the classroom,” allowing instruction and homework to be done online and classroom discussion meant to facilitate discussion! These three companies will have an undeniable impact on higher ed in the future. It will be exciting and nerve wrecking to watch education transform. There will always be ups and downs. But if MOOC is changing our idea of learning, what does this also mean for the textbook industry? If publishers do not have a say over which titles are being offered, how will content be standardized? How will we regulate the Common Core? If any solution, MOOC providers should work one-on-one with the publishers to ensure content and all needs are met.