Monday, January 5, 2009

Textbooks are a low hanging fruit

Interesting discussion at about education. It had 58 comments last time I looked. If you are interested in education, definitely worth the read.

In any case, one of the things he said is

But in any case, we can also work on developing the passion for science and engineering in children at an early age. We've been doing that with our son by supplementing his schoolwork with afterschool work on programming videogames which is his passion (and the passion of most 12 year old boys that I know).

I blogged earlier this year that 39 out of 40 kids in a college comp sci class said they developed their passion for programming playing video games.

That's what I am talking about. We could use a similar dynamic in bioengineering, energy technology, and other important new technologies.

Infecting our kids with passion for learning is key and we must do a better job of it.

And 57 comments later, I said,
I apologize for not reading the comments before I posted. Very nice discussion. Most especially if the VC take a look at education through some different lenses.

Anyway I have three more cents:
1. The efficiencies of online learning are already close to tipping. The trick is that the educational institutions don't want to share the added value created with faculty, students and parents. The price of higher ed is unsustainable. Congress and the market are both going to go after it.

2, The issue is not "the kids need to see an actual connection between the things they study and their applications in the real world". Kids live in a very real world today. It's about learning, fun, adventure or a million other things. They are naturally learning machines. It's "a get out of the way, nurture what is already there" problem. A lot less will produce a lot more.

3. The textbook industry is a very ripe low hanging fruit that may be attacked by the remnants of the newspaper industry or more likely the Crowd in the Cloud. Consider using the long tail of newspaper content in customized readers to be sold in place of textbooks. The print tech is in place. The Cloud is in place. The newspapers are looking for a life line. Imagine the NYTimes taking on the big three textbook publishers.

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