W02: Is the education marketplace broken?

This is a Discussion Post related to the second week of 522.

Is the education marketplace broken? From your experience and perspective do you feel that money flows intelligently and effectively within education systems to fulfill the mission of learning? Many people consider that the education marketplace is broken because there are far too many political, corporate, institutional, and ideological barriers in place to allow free market forces to ‘correct’ things as they do in other marketplaces. Do you agree? If it is broken, can you suggest any ways to ‘fix’ it?

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70 responses to “W02: Is the education marketplace broken?”

  1. skye ferguson
    I think the quote at the beginning of this week’s readings comparing a surgeon and a teacher from the 1900s sums up the broken educational marketplace. We should have been way more technologically advanced in the classroom so that when the pandemic struck we were not scrambling as much. The very fact that we scrambled shows that we have a broken system. Teachers in the classroom are very separated from the budget. We are supposed to be seen as professionals but we lack a lot of autonomy and control over many class decisions. We usually don’t have a voice at the table when it comes to bringing different technological advancements into our classroom unless like the readings say contribute to the higher numbers on test scores. My favorite example is when divisions want us to integrate more tech into the classroom. They introduce us to things like mentimeter and show us the great things it can do … but only offer us the free version of it with limiting features as it will not increase an overall test score rather the functionality of a lesson. I think we need to step away from buzzwords like stem and steam. If we are going to incorporate all these trends in the classroom people sitting at the corporate tables need to be prepared to fun it properly so that kids and teachers feel competent. Lastly, the marketplaces will never be fixed until we stop teaching for a test. I think if education became more about learning to learn rather than learning with the intent of performing well on a test we would begin to see a lot of success in the classroom.
    ( 6 upvotes and 0 downvotes )
    1. Michael Saretzky
      I also liked that quote, I do think it applies to several classes, however I do think it depends on the classroom that you are going into. In my classroom last year, I had six TVs, five on tables and one on the wall. I regularly had students around the tables, using keyboards and touchpads that were connected with the Chromebits on each TV, and I even used them to do a video game unit in my LA class. Although I had no say in purchasing these devices, we had a very tech ambitious VP a couple of years ago, but the TVs were just sitting around for a while.
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      1. skye ferguson
        Wow that is amazing to have such a tech driven admin team – it definitely supports the instruction you did. Also good point, it also depends on how knowledgeable the teacher is with regards to using the technology so that a smart board does not become an expensive projector.
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        1. Michael Saretzky
          Yes, it was excellent. Unfortunately, he moved schools, but there was a lot of equipment by the time that he had left. Yeah, it was an odd experience, where I saw when every teacher ask for them and then within 8 years they were all trying to find somewhere to store them.
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      2. Tamara
        I 100% agree with you Michael, that it depends on what classroom you are in, but more importantly what school. This brings me back to my post where I mention that the state of the current education marketplace creates a situation of haves and have nots. You mentioned you had a tech ambitious VP, which is why your classroom had the latest gadgets and tools, reiterating my point that whether or not a school has tech or is tech focused depends on the decisions of one or two administrators (who usually make the decision in isolation). I also had a tech driven Principal for 8 years who purchased 250 iPads for all students, but since his retirement and since the new admin took over, the iPads have been collecting dust and our PD has been focused elsewhere. Sad.
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    2. sundeep lail
      Hi Skye, I want to comment on your statement that the education system struggled to get online when COVID struck. In the ESL industry we nearly crashed…very few teachers were able to deal with the technology of teaching online. In my own organizations we had people quit, other took 3 months leave, other spent 10-15hours a day trying to figure out the technology aspect of teaching online. We definitely have a disconnect between what the teachers need to teach technology in this world. That is where I feel the “Education Marketplace is broken” stems from. The teachers don’t seem to have a say in what they need from the education marketplace sector to really use and implement tools for their classroom. I feel they need more of a say into what is needed, the education marketplace need teachers as consultants, those who actually work in the schools and are educators to really help fix the disconnect between the two sectors.
      ( 1 upvotes and 0 downvotes )
      1. leighton chiverton
        We had the exact same issue around where I’m from. We nearly all drowned when we were made to transition. We had a decent amount of software available to us but because we had such limited hardware in school to allow students to regularly access the software, very few students and teachers were fluent in the use of what we already had. We also had many students who simply did not have a device at home or any form of data connection and the frustrations built up very quickly. I firmly believe that every teacher I worked with in the last year would agree that the first step to fixing this issue would be to get to as close to a 1:1 student to device ratio as possible. We are finally starting to see that at the end of this year but we have been calling for 1:1 for years now because we want to be able to access the powerful tools we have already on a more regular basis.
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    3. Tamara
      I agree with the frustration that comes when you get introduced to a tech tool, use it, love it, but its full access is limited or only for a set time forcing you to pay to continue to reap the benefits in your classroom! An example within my district was the use of Screencastify (https://www.screencastify.com/). Our school board paid for teachers to have full access during the last few months of school (when we shut down) and we had most of our teachers participate in PD and training related to this tool and many used it regularly with their online teaching. However, when September came, our district announced they will no longer be paying for the subscription- what a waste of all that great training! Learning opportunity sadly missed!
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      1. Erica Hargreave
        Oh, that is sad, and such a waste of training and the investment in learning.
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    4. Siobhán McPhee
      I really appreciated the quote at the start of this week from the work on Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Neil Postman. The idea also relates to what David says in his introduction to the course, that too few educators are pioneers. I find this so absurd as we are trying to empower our students to be innovators and problem solvers and yet the structure of education has changed little in over three centuries. I am a big fan of Sir Ken Robinson and if you have seen his animation video (https://youtu.be/zDZFcDGpL4U) on the shortcomings of instutionalised education then I highly recommend that you do. I enrolled in the Certificate in Educational Technology in 2016 after already taught at UBC for three years. I was attempting to be innovative in my teaching and learning approaches and felt I needed the theoretical framework to continue the work. Over the past few years I have enjoyed most of the courses I have taken within the program and I have been able to some extent to apply what I have learned. I would say though that the greatest benefit I have gained from the courses though is that I have learned to really be able to critique the use of educational technology within higher education. The greatest ‘crisis’ as I see it is that technology and emerging media forms are simply being regarded as ‘tools’ to be incorporated into the existing instutionalised structure of the university classroom. The chalkboard is replaced by the overhead projector, is replaced by the powerpoint presentation, is replaces by the smart board – but has the delivery changed at all? In my experience absolutely not. In attempting to really shift the thinking to be about a truly blended pedagogy where education is more flexible, innovator and applicable I am continuously coming up against the structures which push back and tell me ‘no you must have three one hour lectures a week’. Or as Skye also points out the use of ‘free’ software which the university then refuses to get a license for. Or my favourite which is the purchase of certain technologies because they are the ‘current hot thing’ without any specific purpose. The education marketplace is broken not because there are not amazing innovative and creative tools out there, but because the foundation of the structure of higher education is rotten. After eight years of fighting the system I am weary, and this course is enabling me to feel excited about what I do for the first time in a long time but will it change the structure – doubtful…
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  2. Michael Saretzky
    When I first saw this question my immediate response was yes. One issue I have found in Alberta, where I have taught for the last fifteen years in the multiple curriculum redesigns. The curriculum may not be recognized as the marketplace, but it is the main factor in many market decisions. In my time here there was the original social studies program, then a new program shortly after I arrived, then almost a new one with the last government but it was cancelled by the next government, but I believe a new one is on the horizon. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be creating new curriculums, as there are definitely some outdated curriculums out there, but with each new redesign we are diverting money that could be used in the classroom. These funds are not just being directly diverted from the government coffers. Schools send teachers to PDs to learn about the curriculum or to choose new resources, companies use money to plan and create resources to target the new outcomes. Even in the situation of the cancelled curriculum, K-4 was supposed to be released that following September, which means new resources had to have been planned. One would assume that if a company made a resource that was subsequently cancelled those costs would be recovered by other means, such as an increase in future resources. Again, these are funds that could be going to the classrooms or to by different resources. Overall, the motor that runs the education market, the curriculum, has become too much of a political football. As for my solution to this problem, I have two parts. First off, curriculum redesign should scheduled, such as every fifteen years, this will remove it from being revamped with every election, although tweeks could be made accordingly, to allow for such things as new technologies. Secondly, a committee is set up that includes active participants, such as parents, teachers, universities and an equal amount of members of major provincial political parties (I don’t know what would constitute major), this committee will develop the major ideas. For instance, maybe they decide that social studies 7 should learn about Russia or that social studies is an equal balance of history, geography and current events and they could even decide on the main units. Decisions must be done by consensus, I know that this may seem like an impossible task, but I am sure it can be done. Then the design, such as sequencing can be developed by the teachers.
    ( 5 upvotes and 0 downvotes )
    1. Jessica Daicos
      Hi Michael, In my four years training and teaching in Melbourne I used 3 curriculum documents, so I definitely agree about the hassle with the curriculum redesigns. Right now, in Ontario, the Ford government seems to keep changing things up, from funding to curriculum to class sizes. Every time, teachers need to invest their time into aligning with the new standards. It probably contributes to teachers often avoiding new trends – they’re just going to change again in a minute anyway. And, you’re right, I’d never thought about the financial and technological resources that get sunk in as well. I wonder how much this volatility also lowers the confidence of edu tech ventures. To your point about a solution, Finland seems to do much of what you’re suggesting (of course they do). I believe they’ve managed to isolate school and curriculum reform from short-term politics, leading to much better satability. They also have a national curriculum that is revised every 10 years with heavy input from teachers and stakeholders (Holdsworth Center). I would tend to agree with you that the first point in creating a more “intelligent and effective flow” in the education marketplace is to correct (or find a way to bypass) this issue. https://holdsworthcenter.org/blog/education-in-finland-sweden-and-germany-what-we-learned-from-our-european-neighbors/?gclid=CjwKCAjwkoz7BRBPEiwAeKw3qyhpYdPOX9isAL7wdDit0iEhzwUs_X1GXExBOu_RelybJpHYOf8AiBoCIVcQAvD_BwE
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    2. RyanSilverthorne
      Hello Michael, In general I would certainly agree that curriculum redesign certainly gets in the way of our ability to deliver effective learning. Oftentimes when a redesign happens teachers are scrambling to find supplemental materials to meet their objectives and this can be problematic to say the least. It seems politics is inescapable these days in every area of life but it’s sad that it has a direct negative effect on student learning. While I agree with the sentiment behind consensus I do feel as we will always run into the political problem as long as the government is so closely tied to education. In the end the leadership of the ministry makes the final call and therefore usually are prone to listening to the advice of academics and others who support their political biases. I think your idea about scheduled curriculum redesign is certainly a good one. I also believe it makes sense to implement a redesign after an election cycle to avoid politicizing it as much as possible.
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  3. Vijaya Jammi
    The disjuncture between policy for reform and its implementation is often visible in many contexts. Although institutions have ambitious plans for change aided by technology to support learning in the modern context, the allocation of funds for the reform is hard to come. This could be because of the complex structure of the educational system where multiple actors at various levels interact and influence decisions and implementation. As one of the literature reviews by OCED states, ‘due to the cost of reforms and the uncertainty about the outcomes, the stakeholders prefer to stick to the status quo rather than changing’. Educating the stakeholders at various levels in the system about the positive benefits of investing in the change might be difficult, but if the decision to bring in the change is strategically embedded in the policy, its implementation might be easier.
    ( 2 upvotes and 0 downvotes )
    1. Siobhán McPhee
      Yes change the policy and the structure!
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  4. julio palacios
    I’m not sure if broken is the right word, but I sometimes feel the education marketplace certainly suffers from a “Keeping up with the Jones” complex that is accentuated by how departments in academic institutions are often siloed from one another. My perspective is predominantly formed from my experiences with a past employer were I was afforded a broad perspective on how different departments were purchasing educational and digital media equipment. I felt our readings really hit the nail on the head where it laid out that the bigger the purchase, the further away from the student the decision-makers tend to be. This top-heavy approach seems to inevitably lead to hasty purchases (often fueled by silver-tongued sale pitches at educational conferences) that seem to be applicable / relevant on paper, but falls short when it comes time to deployment. I’m not sure if paving a path for a liberated free market should be the answer. Education can be such a precarious market as many of the end users are (at least seen as) vulnerable and one expects the institution to take precautions to ensure that the products and ventures supporting their education are well vetted. Alternatively, I feel that if decisions were made more holistically between the ministry, the institution, department and of course, the educators, we could avoid much ineffective purchasing. Granted, this is easier said than done. Especially when one considers how often these entities are pegged against each other when it comes to funding, physical space, spotlighting and growth. Coupled with collaboration, perhaps the use of a framework is also necessary. I found the SAMR framework for educational purchases to be quiet interesting. The framework is pretty simple in comparisons to others, as it primary motivation is the student and educator’s experience. (see S.E.C.T.I.O.N.S framework as a more thorough example) link to framework https://www.schoology.com/sites/default/files/samr_r2.png Mapping the classic chalkboard as an example Substitution: Replacing a green chalkboard with a black chalkboard may allow for a bit more visibility at the back of the room, but little else is afforded by the replacement. Augmentation: A whiteboard with dry erase markers are easier to maintain, more cost effective, and legible to learners further back. There is a clear improvement. Modification: A projected smart board. Allows educators to prepopulate and clear content quickly. Provides educators with the option to copy and send content directly to the student. Redefinition – A large touch screen monitor connected to an internet-enabled computer. Not only does this product incorporate the same benefits of the previous products mentioned, but it now affords new learning/interaction opportunities to the learner and new teaching tools and possibilities to the educator.
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    1. Michael Saretzky
      The SAMR model is great, another one I have used is TPACK. However, one issue that I have with either of these models is there needs to be more thought process before purchasing. For instance, I was a big fan and even advocate for SmartBoards, however I found that they were not being completely utilized, really they were mainly being used as a glorified whiteboard. What several people were missing were the interactive features within the programing. After talking to several colleagues, I found the major issue was time, teachers were either required to spend a vast amount of time learning and then creating lessons or if you may spend time looking for premade lessons. I do believe that if a product is to be successful in the classroom it needs to take teachers time into account and any product that respects a teachers time or even lessens it, allowing them to focus on other aspects of their job has a much better chance at being successful. As such, this is why teachers should be involved throughout the marketplace, as designers, researchers, customers and so on. You may be able to sell a program to a school division, but really if teachers are not using it or utilizing it, then is it really successful? Sorry, this is a long winded response, but I do believe that although SAMR and TPACK are excellent models, before purchasing new technology, but an understanding of how it will impact teachers’ time should be a focus as well.
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      1. julio palacios
        Not longwinded at all. It was a great point and I definitely agree! Whatever purchasing framework that is adopted should include input from the front-line educator. Sometimes a grounded perspective from the get-go can go a long way in avoiding squandering resources and budgets.
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        1. Michael Saretzky
          This is one of the greatest issues I think there is with education, the teachers are often left out of some of the major decisions. Some of my best principals have been the ones that taught one or two classes, so they are then connected to the classroom and understand and respect the needs of the teachers. All to often the teacher ignored in the production line. I remember at my old school just over four years ago a colleague was trying to get everyone using Google Classroom and no one would listen and now they are all using it. I will add that prior to reading your post, I had not really looked at S.E.C.T.I.O.N.S. but have now and I do like it, as I felt it is well explained, but not too loaded with information. TPACK is a lot I found, even after a day PD I still went back and learned a lot more. SAMR is nice in that I do not find it too intimidating, it is actually what our division used for tech coaches.
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    2. Siobhán McPhee
      I love the idea of the “Keeping up with the Jones” complex in educational institutions! It is so true that universities are afraid to do anything different because then they may lose students or funding. It keeps the innovation at bay…
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  5. johannes dirk wielenga
    I do not view the educational marketplace as broken, but unique. It seems to work – look around any modern classroom and you will find a plethora of technology from various companies. Take a look at the software you have available to you because of district licencing and you may be surprised by your new found wealth (many teachers around me don’t seem to tap into the software trove of their districts, oftentimes because they don’t know it exists). To me, the thing that makes the educational marketplace unique, which perhaps is its hurtle, is that, as this week’s readings point out, there are usually huge amounts of people involved in any purchase, both in terms of the purchase itself, as well as the end-user (often a large number of students who are disassociated from the purchase but are the ones using the purchase). This situation causes is a lot of money being spent on things that won’t actually be used; as Michael points out above, a tech ambitious VP bought a bunch of TVs that ended up collecting dust (until they were finally utilized). Sure, we can focus on having more collaborative purchasing decisions, but we already do that and the problems persist. So perhaps we leave purchasing decisions to the individual teacher, but that will cause just as much wastage, as one teacher might find a benefit from a piece of software, but no one else in the school ends up using it. I think one solution might be to implement more uniformity of tech use within a district/school (i.e. forced buy-in), but I am against this because educator autonomy is a hallmark of progressive learning and what works for one class won’t work for another. I’ve seen some districts hire a technology coach who is booked by individual teachers to come help them figure out anything they want to do with tech in the class – but I also have seen how this service is often underutilized (or improperly utilized). I do like the tech coach idea, but as others here have pointed out, time is the enemy in education and so initiatives like this often falls to the wayside as the teacher cannot find the time to book an appt with the tech advisor, have the appt, and then figure out how to modify or build new lesson plans to implement what they learned. To sum up, there are no easy solutions to the problem presented here, but perhaps that’s just the uniqueness of the educational marketplace (understanding, of course, that we should always strive to improve).
    ( 4 upvotes and 0 downvotes )
    1. Neal Donegani
      Johannes, Thank you for writing this, because it covers much of what I was thinking about when I went through our readings, plus you added more that I have realized from being a teacher. Education is a unique market, for sure, with levels of buyers that are ultimately not the end customer: the students. However, you also made a good point that educators are the ones that are out there with the students’ best interests in mind, and should be the ones making decisions. I too have seen administration buy a bunch of tech that is mostly unused because staff simply aren’t trained to use it. Finally, you talk about uniformity. I understand and truly appreciate you recognizing teacher autonomy, and its value for progression; however, there has to be some room for standardization or conformity when it comes to tech. After all, most educators work in a building that they did not build, yet they make it work. At some point educators are going to have to realize that they have to share the same virtual walls as well.
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      1. johannes dirk wielenga
        Hey Neal, thanks for the reply. You make a compelling argument surrounding teacher autonomy with tech and yes, when I stop to think about it, I agree. I suppose this just brings us back to where we are now in education, though: the district or province buys the big ticket tech that can be utilized by all, while teachers are given a small budget where they can branch out for more specialized tech. I am still left wondering about being forced to use something though, depending on what it is. Perhaps the district buys a PowerSchool license… in my mind I think the district should be able to force every teacher to use it. But what if the district buys some 3D printers…. does someone have the onus to ensure those machines are utilized? I, for one, am unsure. Thanks again for the helpful comment, Neal!
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    2. EmilyChen
      Hi Johannes, I like your perspective on the education marketplace being ‘unique’ rather than being broken. I agree with you in that often times technology purchased gets wasted in schools. I think it comes from different positions in the chain of command seeing different things and having perspectives. I think maybe being open and transparent about the purpose behind the use of a certain technology may help. In our private tutoring institution, we try to involve teachers in the decision-making process, however, we noticed that even when we do, there’s still the obstacle of learning how to use the actual new technology. Sometimes if the learning process is too complicated it also hinders the adoption process, and I agree with you that it’s very important to actually work out with the teachers on how a technology should be incorporated into the curriculum, so it doesn’t just become a fancy artwork that just sits there as showcase that the school ‘has it’. Thanks! Emily
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  6. sarka kubelikova
    The readings were a breath of fresh air for me. In our board the tech that we are allowed to use for online learning environments is dictated by non-teaching staff and therefore often misses the mark or doesn’t allow for integration of other technologies that are needed in the classroom, so instead of embracing new technology staff are reluctant to use it. One of the reasons given to staff by our board to explain the limited technologies we are allowed to use is privacy. Any technology where information about a student has the potential to be used or sold is not allowed in our board. For ex. D2L is allowed and uses students full name, Google classroom can be used (for now), but uses an unrecognizable coding system for each student, so you don’t really know who you are talking to unless you have a cheat sheet! Let me know if you think this is just politics or not. I do think that the system is not working. There should be a way staff have a say or can review possible technologies that can be used in the classroom. I also always make sure to get student’s feedback on what they find works and what they find doesn’t. Ultimately it is their learning that either suffers or benefits.
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  7. Rachel
    Campbell et al. (2007) said “Economies depend on a well-educated population” but there seems to be much argument in terms of what’s considered well-educated. I am not sure if I would say the education marketplace is broken, rather, could we say we’re going through some sort of educational inflation? It is troublesome when we have more people with master’s or PhD degree and can’t find a job that matches their credential. Earlier this year, Australian government was proposing an increase of university tuition fee for art degree courses when providing more funding for STEM related courses and BBC has a great article on it: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200728-why-australia-is-charging-more-to-study-history. This bring to the next question, how do we determine whether one education is more valuable than the other? Do we determine solely by it’s “job readiness” or are we missing other important factors? It is difficult to anticipate how the job market would be like. For instance, back in my time in high school, no one would assume anyone who wishes to pursue a major in math or statistics could make big money. Look at now with all the big data, algorithm, and other relevant work. Statisticians are the hot commodities (so to speak if we want to continue with the marketplace analogy). I have students from different programs asking me about how to transfer to a STEM program because “I need to make sure I can find a job when I graduate”. That is why last week, during the Emerging Markets Poll, I reacted so strongly on the success driven model education. A lot to think about, for sure! Campbell, J.P., DeBlois, P.B. & Oblinger, D.G. (2007) Academic analytics: a new tool for a new era . EDUCAUSE Review 42(4), 40–57. Horton, A.P. (2020, July 28). Why Australia is doubling fees for arts degrees. BBC https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200728-why-australia-is-charging-more-to-study-history
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    1. Laura Ulrich
      Hi Rachel, You make a fantastic point about the inbalance between degrees and careers. Though I would add that the problem is likely greater than simply which degree one gets. Only a select few of my peers from my STEM degree actually made a career out of it. And they were the ones who were applying for co-op, volunteering in professor’s labs, and taking every available moment outside of class to gain more expierence. Perhaps our education marketplace is flawed in that we treat it like any other consumer-culture market? Those that succeed are the ones who are driven to learn, rather than those who are driven to earn a ticket to a secure future?
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  8. kevin ohearn
    I think that the answer to this question really depends on the education system you are a part of. I am currently teaching at a private school in China with a number of different departments. I am a part of the bilingual department which has created it’s own curriculum over the years with the help of numerous educators who have worked in the school. The school’s board of directors is made up of Chinese people who do not necessarily have a lot of experience in an English classroom. As a result, most of the decisions regarding things like resources or curriculum are up to the the foreign teachers and the associate principal. If we need a subscription to an educational website or need to purchase other educational materials we are able to do so quite easily through the school. I understand that many schools and school boards do not allow their teachers to be so involved in decisions related to the purchase of educational materials. This is unfortunate. As a teacher, I feel that we are in the best position to determine what our students need. We are more in-tune with the specific needs of their learners and know what they need in order to be successful. Therefore, our opinions are very important and should be given considerable consideration to avoid misuse of resources. I’m sure many of us have seen resource rooms with class sets of learning materials collecting dust. Generally, I think these materials were purchased because of a decision made by someone far removed from the learner. As a general rule, those closest to the learner generally make the best decisions about how to spend money to promote learning.
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    1. Jessica Daicos
      Hi Kevin, I think you’ve hit on a good point here about the education system. You discuss it most in terms of the international context, but I think private vs. public is equally unique. Last year, I worked at a prestigious independent boarding school. I didn’t realise until COVID how much of the school’s decisions were based on being an educational product itself. Right from the beginning of the pandemic, school leadership approached their planning from the perspective of “how do we adapt our services to maintain a product that parents will value at a price of 70k?” Everything from timetabling to tech to faculty and staff expectations were driven by this. So, our choice of pandemic tech solutions was made from the need to produce a premium product (the school’s brand), while still being economically viable (to avoid layoffs and possible closure). My point is that in an educational market, learning isn’t always necessarily the goal (and I guess this goes back to customers vs end users vs learners). As soon as the educational institution is a product itself a whole new layer is introduced, in terms of strategy and purchasing to add value to the brand. This is probably quite obvious in corporate learning, and I can imagine also pays a piece in post-secondary. K-12 surprised me though. Education may be “get right slow” but there is a much bigger business side to it than I had ever thought.
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      1. kevin ohearn
        Hey Jessica, I totally agree with the point you made that in an educational market, learning isn’t always the goal. I have been teaching internationally for the past 7 years and have felt that the school directors are most concerned with school profitability as opposed to student learning and development. For this reason, money is often spent in mays that do not benefit the students. I remember when teaching in Egypt, a new basketball court was installed on the playground. The court was covered in layers of this blue plastic that looks great but was incredibly slippery. Students trying to play on the court often slipped and scrapped their knees. The school was unwilling to remove the “beautiful” plastic (there was a perfectly fine concrete floor under the slippery plastic covering) so eventually the students just stopped using it. However, it did look great for pictures of the school.
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      2. Alice Shin
        The public vs private is an important distinction, Jessica, and it loans to our understanding of who the customers and buyers really are in any given marketplace. Particularly true is the reality that learning and quality in the delivery of the learning experience for the end-user is, oddly, not the goal for education or the educational marketplace – it’s pretty much about the proverbial bottom line. To add a twist, in the international market and possibly with some private schools locally, there is another entity called the Agent – a go-between that, Kevin, you may or may not be familiar with. This person is basically a people-broker who finds and recommends programs usually for overseas. The end-users, or the learners or their families, will select the school or educational program based almost solely on the recommendation of the Agent. In essence, this Agent is now the customer who will send the end-user to a particular program based not on the quality of education offered to the learner, but on the commission the Agent gets from the school they refer students to. If there is ever an example of education being a business, it is this!
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    2. AmandaKong
      Hi Kevin Thank you for your response. I think you explained misuse of class resources well, as we do tend to keep lots in storage.Jessica mentioned the economic challenges in private institutions. Both your comments made me ponder on the private school market, which is also part of theeducation marketplace. Private schools can have more a market-orientedapproach, as opposed to the pedagogical approach held by public schools. I am curious about the comparison of the public and private school markets from afree-market standpoint. 
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    3. Erica Hargreave
      Wise words. I have been fortunate in my career to be in similar position to you, of having control over choosing my resources. It makes all the difference and is as you say, the way it should be.
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  9. Erica Hargreave
    Personally from my observations there is a lot that could use fixing in the education system marketplace. It is a system in which a fair bit of nepotism exists and change happens slowly, meaning that purchases are not always made based on the best, but rather on relationships with the seller. Once an item is purchased it is clung to and imposed upon the educators within the system (often for decades), not necessarily because it is the best but because “that is how things are done.” There have been countless examples of this with the online learning systems that schools have been using during the pandemic. My niece’s school board for example is using a system in which the kids cannot save their work, and if the system times out or logs you out mid draft, then you lose everything. Dare I say it, even WebCT, was clung to long past its effectiveness at UBC, I suspect in part because it was designed on campus. Education is not alone in nepotism or slow moving change. These exist in other sectors too. I have seen countless examples of this in the film and television industry, and am forever running into the issue of systems in which you can’t safe your work and that time out losing everything you were working on, on government websites. Change can happen, but tends to be slow moving, in small bubbles that are allowed to continue provided not too many people notice, and when necessity strikes. An example of this for me this past summer were BCIT’s first online kids camps. The school had the option of me developing them in D2L or in the StoryToGo Classroom. Despite only having a 1 1/2 months to the start of the camp, it took BCIT a month to decide to use D2L, and then on the Friday before the camp, they still could not get the kids A00#s and hence access to D2L. Thankfully I had the StoryToGo Classroom ready, and we learned in the process that it is a more user-friendly and accessible platform for an online kids camp. Does this mean we will be able to use the StoryToGo Classroom for future kids camps for BCIT? No, although it definitely is now a little more likely, provided it does not attract the attention of too many others in the institution who might say “that is not how we do things or what we use”. How do we fix these broken systems? That’s a good question, as this is far from a new problem. A few catalysts of change include necessity, competition, and positive attention. The latter is why I am discovering it helps to publicly speak at conferences on the change you wish to see, new ventures, and solutions. Part of catalyzing change is speaking about it, as well creating demonstrations of what is possible. With some new ventures, like Elementari, their strategy has been to find teachers that will champion the platform within their classes, creating examples that those making the purchasing decisions cannot ignore. I hate the word, but as someone who is considered an ‘influencer’ in certain niche areas, I am at times approached by new technology ventures to create on their platforms, as a way to gain eyes and attention to their platform. This morning that involved a meeting with a new venture in India called Graphy. I love experimenting on new platforms and I love being invited in early to experiment, so I didn’t really need to be sold on things, but with the concept of developing new ventures in mind, it was interesting to observe a demonstration of the incentives that I was being offered to act and develop content on their platform in a timely manner. I will likely follow up on those incentive offers, as the science nerd in me loves the experiment and loves to observe a case study of what we are learning about in action, and as it strikes me that Graphy might make an interesting case study for the sustainable funding series that we are working on on StoryToGo.ca.
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    1. Alice Shin
      For me, Erica, your comments resonate, and address a core issue of ‘brokenness’ not only in the educational marketplace, but virtually all marketplaces – whenever money is involved, politics comes into play and with it some form of bureaucracy and entrenched culture. People buy and sell based on relationships with the emphasis placed on the benefit to the customer (i.e, decision-maker) and not necessarily to the end-user whose interests they are (apparently) representing. This may be the reason why teachers, administrators and learners/end-users themselves are often not considered in decision-making with regards to curriculum, classroom size, etc. This also explains why some decisions do not appear to offer any increase in quality or value, and seems to happen randomly. This is not to be bitter about the state of our world, but simply to be aware of the forces at play and that we may or may not be in a position of influence. These forces are the reality described in this week’s readings, particularly with regards to understanding that the learner or end-user is not actually the customer so that a ‘quality’ solution may not be what is chosen, but another that fills a completely different agenda. But I like your example of Elementari which is leveraging teachers to influence decision-makers in ways that cannot be ignored – I hope this works in bringing positive change! Anything helps political will lean in the right direction. And it’s great that you as an Educator and story-teller are in fact in a position to influence – I wouldn’t shy away from that label at all, and it’s great that you’re using it.
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      1. Alice Shin
        But to answer the question posed related to my post above, the educational marketplace is definitely not perfect, but unless the system as a whole changes – which is unlikely – I’d say we need to learn how to manage the educational marketplace instead of fixing it.
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        1. Erica Hargreave
          Wise words there, Alice. – re: “learn how to manage the educational marketplace instead of fixing it.” I suspect that is what Nicole Kang is attempting to do with Elementari, by leveraging teachers to influence decision-makers in ways that cannot be ignored. I am really hoping that she is successful with this, as it does give hope of one way of managing this marketplace.
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  10. Alexandra Scott
    Aspects of it are and other aspects of it aren’t, just like many areas in life. The ways in which it is broken is that you have to be a big, well-known and successful company to actually be considered for usage and implementation in the educational marketplace as most schools would not consider test driving a product that is unfamiliar and brand-new generally, thus breaking in as a starting venture is a challenge. Also, the “customer” is quite unclear and often the main people opening their wallets are not even the ones that use it, thus questioning the validity of them being the people who purchase it for an entire school and expect teachers and students make use of it even if it does not improve their way of teaching or learning. So often teachers may decide to stick to the old way of doing things and teaching because it is simpler and easier and less work to figure out as the product is not being sold to the correct person. Also lack of resources prevent schools from actually making use of the educational marketplace because they just do not have the luxury of all students having laptops or Ipads or they do not have the ability to provide WIFI due to infrastructure problems, this is especially true in poor countries like in Africa. So the educational technology market does certainly only cater to a certain window of people with the luxuries and privilege of WIFI and technology. The ways in which it is working have been noticed most over the course of the past few months where teachers have been able to switch to online platforms and still offer children and education, may not be the best quality always but it is at least something, then again it depends in which country these learners and teachers find themselves in. Schools have moved rapidly to platforms like ZOOM, MicrosoftTeams, ItsLearning, Edmodo, GoogleClassroom etc in order to produce materials that can be viewed by students at home and viewed by teachers. A few months ago there were schools who had not even considered using any of these platforms and are now religiously teaching on them in order for students to obtain an education. It clearly shows that there is a fast growing market for school platforms that have an easy interface for students and allow teachers ways to share various materials as well as video call with students. It is an exciting time to be in educational technology as it is an opportunity to develop something that caters to students, teachers and administrators needs when school cannot be physically attended. The biggest problem I have identified is not what is on the market or who buys it but on how it only caters to a select group of people in the world namely those with the infrastructure and money to implement it and in this sense yes it is very broken. How does one fix it? Well a lot of investment would need to be put into those countries to improve their infrastructure in order to cater for free WIFI and also smartboard etc but the problem is even if this happens the teachers do not receive training or prefer doing things the way they always have and so the stuff is wasted. This is a huge problem in township schools in South Africa, where smartboards are setup and then never used. So a mindset change has to happen as well.
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  11. adrian wheeler
    I personally think the education market is very broken. It is s focused on marketing new and shiny technology with little consideration given to how it will actually integrate into the real world curriculum. Every new piece of educational technology claims to be “disruptive”, “groundbreaking” or “game changing” yet very few are. These products are created and marketed, not for the benefit of the end users, but for “wow” factor. I can’t count the number of times I have seen departments or professors with big grants invest massive sums of money in shiny new tech just to put it in a corner when they realize its either too cumbersome, or doesn’t fit into their curriculum. The second, and related issue is setup, support and maintenance. Who is going to setup the technology? Who is going to train the teachers? Who is going to keep it up to date? and what happens when it becomes obsolete? These are all questions I rarely see asked and become massive problems right from the get go.
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    1. EmilyChen
      Hi Adrian, I think your concern is a very realistic one that administrators or the people in charge of purchasing need to consider. Being the person who is involved in making these kinds of decisions, I often find myself stuck as well. Since my institution is privately-owned with investors to answer to, every year we are expected to show how promising and technology forward our schools are. It’s a hard battle, every year I see our competitors are releasing information such as “we are using AI to run student performance analysis” and “we are using VR technology to upgrade students’ experience in learning”, and our investors want to see that we are keeping up also. I find myself in the situation where I need to keep a balance between wanting to keep learning real in the classroom and as you said, make sure that it fits into our curriculum with enough tech support, and also making sure we have some form of ‘wow’ factor as well. Thanks for bring up this issue! It’s something worth thinking about. Emily
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  12. AmandaKong
    Like most existing systems, there is a room for advancement and improvement as the world changes. A successful marketplace is one that is able to adapt to the needs of its’ consumers. As an educator in the public school system in BC, there is a disconnect between the actual execution of new technological implementations at a school district level. There are, unfortunately times where the schools have an initial burst of speed implementing new technology in classrooms, but over time, the momentum stops. For example, we purchased Artificial Reality headsets for our senior students’ respective passion projects. It was initially well-received and some students were able to use this relatively new technology in their Independent Directed Studies. However, it lasted one year and now, the headsets are in storage. We also updated our digital learning platform (Moodle) this past summer, however, it is still relatively outdated compared to others. Similarly, this resonated with this week’s readings comparison of teachers working in the 1900’s. A way to fix the inadequacies in education marketplace is to recognize the issues within the system. We need to increase awareness of the systemic issues and long term consequences of falling behind in educational technology. Courses such as ETEC522 will help empower us, as educators to challenge the current status quo. We need to build a sense of priority in helping others, recognize education as an important field. We need to understand the business aspects so that we are able to provide constructive feedback to policymakers in education. In fact, as many mentioned, teachers are often disconnected from making these essential decisions. Front-line education policymakers need to work with educators to develop changes that are vital to ensure the education system fulfills the social and academic purposes. Education needs to be viewed as an essential step for our society to continue to foster and prosper. These pandemic has revealed many inadequacies in the current education system, and we can reflect on the limited amount of choices we can make. Personally, I am grateful to be taking this course so I can take this knowledge and share it with my fellow teacher co-workers.
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    1. adrian wheeler
      Hi Amanda, Thanks for your perspective on this, it is interesting to see the same issues in schools as we have in post secondary. It is always such a shame when expensive technology with excellent potential is relegated to a closet. I would echo your call for better communication and a proper partnership between policy makers and teacher, but I would add IT to that equation. In my experience, one of the big reasons technology goes unused is the infrastructure and support requirements were never considered when it was purchased. It can also be helpful to include IT professionals in new technology discussions simply for their expertise.
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  13. EmilyChen
    I don’t know enough about the public education system to comment on this question, however, in the private tutoring institutions sector in China, I believe it is broken in that there’s so much CV funding money flowing around. In the Chinese education system, it is very common and almost deemed necessary for children to attend after-school tutoring institutions. In 2019, financing events in the education industry ranked fourth in China with the amount of financing around CNY 20 billion, that’s roughly USD 2.95million (Khan, 2020), and in the first half year in 2020, funding into the education industry has already reached CNY 17 billion (PongBai, 2020). It is hard for small and even medium-sized businesses to compete with the large size companies that have so much capital investment funding and are able to pour millions of dollars into marketing alone. As a parent living in China, I am constantly being bombarded with ads online or offline by these companies. I get phone calls on a weekly basis to ask me if I am interested in private tutoring for my daughter, and these calls include services for robotics, math, STEAM, English…etc. Many parents come into our schools and express that they think our English curriculum is great and is what they are looking for, but end up signing up for New Oriental, TAL, or EF simply because their brand is more well known, and therefore more trusted from the parent’s point of view. With most parents not understanding how to better choose a school that has a good English curriculum, they base their judgement largely on what they see in the ads. I’ve see many good private institutions go bankrupt or get acquired by larger companies in my 11 years of working in China in the private education industry, and I too am fighting to keep my company standing. I don’t have a great solution for this, but what we are doing is simply not trying to compete by doing what the big companies are doing. With their marketing fee being 10 times more than ours, there’s no way we can match that. Rather, we are focusing our attention on customer service to increase retention rate and also customer referrals. Reference Qasim Khan, Jan 17, 2020. Number of Financings Falls as STEAM Surpasses K12 Education https://equalocean.com/analysis/2020011713275 PongBai, July 20, 2020. https://m.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_8351963
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  14. JamieTooze
    I am not convinced that the current higher education business model is broken. Still, I believe its foundations are fractured and decaying due to a lack of innovation, and the recent pandemic has only worsened the situation. On September 3, the President of UBC, Dr. Santa Ono, announced that the second semester of the 2020 academic year would also be delivered almost entirely online. Many other Canadian universities followed suit. Now only two weeks in universities ranging from Western Ontario to McMaster and Memorial to UWindsor are rethinking their plans of provided “blended learning opportunities” and “mixed model” instruction as dozens of cases of students and staff testing positive begin to surface (University Affairs, 2020). While there is a wide variety of plans across the provinces and even within universities, they all share one objective – to maintain an economic model that was imperilled even before the pandemic. With UBC as a prime example, universities over the past two decades have taken on staggering amounts of debt to expand their physical operations, to attract more students (to pay ever skyrocketing fees) to fund expansion projects. A major selling point for most large universities has been the campus experience, and with COVID 19 looming at the gates, “college life” will likely never be the same. As a result, Canada’s top universities (and likely most higher education institutions around the world) are left with the formidable challenge of trying to attract enough fee-paying students to keep the lights on, ironically, in deserted classrooms. The fix for this situation might be right under our Presidents’, Chancellors’ and Provosts’ noses. Community and technical colleges, which generally attract older commuter students seeking a professional credential, have seen a much smoother transition to online education because they have proportionately less infrastructure and fixed costs (Kak, 2020). Without residence fees, parking fees, catering services, convention bookings, and movie production deals, the delicate and extraordinarily expensive pillars of higher education could fail. While administrators undoubtedly are trying to preserve some of the college experience out of a deep commitment to their educational mission, most of their recent online contortions seem driven more by economic urgency than anything else. References Kak, S. (2018, January 10). Will traditional colleges and universities become obsolete? Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/will-traditional-colleges-universities-become-obsolete-180967788/ University Affairs. (2020, July 31). COVID-19: Updates for Canada’s universities. https://www.universityaffairs.ca/news/news-article/covid-19-updates-for-canadas-universities/
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  15. Yannick Wong
    To say the education marketplace is broken is somewhat of an understatement. I’d say it’s barely even a marketplace to begin with. Having worked with or worked in large educational institutions pretty much my entire career, this has always been one of my personal gripes about education in general. There is a distinct disconnect between the powers that be and what actually happens on the ground (i.e. what teachers and learners experience). There is more of a marketplace is private and informal education, but most of our money, time, effort, and focus are on public, institutional learning. Public institutional education has two things that don’t go well with a free educationa marketplate. First, it is large, and it is difficult for any large organization to be agile and adaptive. Secondly, it’s important, too important. Education is politics; there are too many players with too many different goals all working to influence what education should look like because it is such an effective tool in controlling society. This is the root cause of all the “political, corporate, institutional, and ideological barriers” in public institutional learning, which is also the cause of the disconnect between decision-makers and what happens on the ground, as I mentioned before. Education is politics, and politics as we know it is messy, inefficient, and often unproductive. I don’t see a way to ‘fix’ it given the presence and influence of all the powerful players in the system. Nothing short of a fundamental change in society would allow an education marketplace to function properly. A benevolent dictatorship where the leader cares about education is the only way I can see this working, but how ‘free’ that market would be and the risks of giving someone total control with no oversight are issues that complicate matters. The education marketplace is really a great dilemma; education is too important for anyone to allow it to truly be a free market (for better or for worse), yet many of us recognize that a free education marketplace would allow for the best tools to come into use.
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    1. RyanSilverthorne
      Dear Yannick, I find your post quite interesting. In general I’d say I agree with almost all of what you say. I currently work as the principal of an international school, using the British Columbia curriculum. I started out in public education and while I am and always be a huge supporter of public education I agree there is no way to separate politics from the equation. One advantage I have in my school is that I can use all the opinions and ideas of my staff, but still have the autonomy to make the final decision. I do not have a district supervisor restricting me and it is generally understood that all resources purchased are meant for the benefit of the collective, rather than catering to one specific classroom or teacher. I don’t know if I would classify myself as a “benevolent dictator”, so much as a person burdened with making the final decision based on the counsel of other very passionate and qualified people. This is certainly a really interesting discussion that until now I have not thought so deeply about. Great post!
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  16. raafa abdulla
    I think the education market place is not fully broken or at least it has not been intentionally broken. There are many websites and softwares that advertise themselves differently. Despite their content or usefulness, we see many that hesitate to purchase these products. There are many online tool that are free or share many resources for free. Teachers want to have access to material that fit the teaching style and the budget of a school. There are limited honest feedback regarding these software or websites. Once they are purchased, we can find many limitations or flaws that were not clearly outlined. Currently most of these software focuses on quantity rather than quality. They advertise one or two tools and they exaggerated. It is a business after all and developers are trying to sell their products. The quantity that is offered online are so much that it is very hard to choose from. Sometime, we have to choose some thing immediately (like what happen during the remote learning ). If we have short notice, we will select and start to use an online tool without searching for other options or searching for the effectiveness of the current one. I am hoping to fix this problem, it is the districts or schools responsibility. They can collaboratively work to create one database on all the educational providers or any online software. We can have investigators give feedback and recommendation. However, we cannot guarantee that there will be no bias :). At least we can have one target place to “pick and choose”.
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  17. Tamara
    The education market place (in the K-12 sector anyways) is by far, without a doubt, broken. One of the biggest challenges faced by teachers is the lack of autonomy, choice, and funding. Through my experience using emerging technologies in my class and as a Technology Coach, I have seen the constant struggle of teachers as they fight an uphill battle to use tech in their classrooms. First of all, most teachers have to bite the cost to use such technologies in their classroom- until the higher ups are convinced it’s worthwhile…but how will you know until you try right? Hence, the battle begins! Second, many teachers (myself included) have had to fight for the right to use certain tools in their classrooms…the privacy concerns and restrictions placed on teachers due to apprehensive district leaders is another definite roadblock! Lastly, in addition to spending our own money on subscriptions or web based services, teachers also have to use their own personal time to train and participate in PD opportunities to make us better at our jobs! Unfortunately, our district priorities are decided by district department heads and only PD surrounding those topics is provided and compensated. There is little (if any) opportunity for teachers to be involved in those decisions and the worst part is many involved in the decision making have been out of the classroom for a number of years. Aside from PD priorities being set by the district, the rest of the school budget rests solely in the hands of the principal- so whether or not one school has technology, depends on whether or not that specific administrator views it as a priority- creating a situation of haves and have nots. For the education marketplace to be fixed, the power, control, and decision making needs to come from teachers, more specifically, teacher leaders who are striving to make positive change in their classrooms.
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    1. adrian wheeler
      Hi Tamara, I really like your point about PD. We focus heavily on training instructors at the Faculty of Medicine as we have found it is the most effective way to ensure technology is used and remains a useful part of teaching. Every piece of technology, no matter how cool or innovative has a learning curve and the faculty (or in your case the administration) needs to not only allow, but encourage teachers and professors to learn not only how the technology work, but how it is best used and integrated into the curriculum.
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  18. sundeep lail
    This is such a huge point of contention for so many stakeholders. I have been reading articles from Dana Goldstein, who writes for the New York Times and particularly about how educational policies effect the families and teachers who are on the front lines. She recently did a research of the same textbook but from different States and found that the textbooks change wordings and are customize for the states they are being taught in. These changes are ultimately bought upon by how the states are governed and what the policy makers what to show and teach within their States. That for me is a completely broken system. As J.D. Tuccille, a writer for Reason.com, puts it “the line between education and indoctrination is often blurry when government institutions present the world to the children under their control.”. As Dana Goldstein wrote, publishers are obviously wanting to please governments because they are the ones that will have the ultimate say into what textbooks should be used. How do we create education that allows the student to see an unbiased view of the world? How do we stop policy makers, who are funding our schools and our teachers, to take a step back from controlling our curriculum? I feel if teachers had more autonomy in their classroom management and teaching, it would help this disconnect between policy and teaching. However, that also brings other issues with how much leeway is too much leeway. However, I do feel that governments should take a step back and not be such a large force with our classrooms. References: Tuccille, J. (2020, January 30). Biased Textbooks Are Just Part of the Public School Curriculum Wars. Retrieved September 20, 2020, from https://reason.com/2020/01/30/biased-textbooks-are-just-part-of-the-public-school-curriculum-wars/ Goldstein, D. (2020, January 12). Two States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories: American history textbooks can differ across the country, in ways that are shaded by partisan politics.Retrieved September 20, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/01/12/us/texas-vs-california-history-textbooks.html
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  19. Feng Mao
    I wouldn’t say the marketplace is broken for now despite there being many political and institutional interests involved in the system. eLearning has become more and more popular over the last twenty years and education boards have shifted the responsibility to teachers to apply digital education systems in their class plans. That said, I feel that educators and policy makers are still finding their way through uncharted territory. As exemplified by the use of iPads in the classroom, there are potential positive aspects to private interest involvement in that text books can become digital and environmentally friendly and there is a common platform to deliver educational applications, though on the other hand, students now spend a considerable amount of time in front of the screen in one company’s ecosystem. The marketplace requires cooperation and feedback between end users, decision makers, and providers to build up a functioning marketplace but it without any reference to build off of, this generation is left to be the first to grow up with the technology.
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  20. ryan valley
    I do not think the education marketplace is broken, but this is from my experience in the private sector working with HR, training, and learning and development people. Many others here have spoken to the challenges of working in public schools and higher education. I think the educational technology marketplace when it comes to buying and selling products and services in corporate environments certainly has less political and institutional barriers than in public institutions, k-12 schools, and universities, although depending on the size and sophistication of an organizations training and talent development team it can certainly be political in its own way. To me, the biggest challenge I see is initial digital adoption. Once a company commits to utilizing technology in more processes, starts developing a digital culture, where employees are supported and given what they need to succeed at using digital tools and eLearning, they can work well. Many tech-supplier companies support this process and spend time sending sales people to attempt to get you to start using their products in the early stages so that they become integrally embedded in your systems. I do not think this is broken any more than most industries though, it is up to us as technologists and scholar-practitioners to help organizations make decisions regarding technology adoption that will benefit them the most. Regarding the marketplace(s), there are many well regarded vendors in all areas, but I still see a lot of room for improvement. Much of the software developed in edtech has not kept up with other industries in terms of UI and UX. I believe the companies that have gotten away with this due to the necessity of their products and the scarcity of competition will soon have a reckoning as new, extremely fast, Cloud based web apps begin to stream into the market more. I also think that the LMS marketplace seems especially challenging, there are a handful very large companies that dominate the market with aggressive sales teams and constant acquisitions of smaller competition.
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    1. Laura Ulrich
      Hi Ryan, Your comment about the lack of competition resonated with me. It seems poorly designed EdTech riddles edcucation . In BC’s public system, many (all?) districts use a web-app called MyEd for everything from attendance to grades to student information. I often joke that it is a prime example of a contract going to the lowest bidder. Its UI/UX is so bad that I spend most of my time clicking randomly when all I want is to print a list of my students’ names. Unfortunately, the Ministry has mandated using it, as it is our way of reporting to them. I wonder how much room there is for healthy competition for something purchased Provincially.
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    2. raafa abdulla
      Hi Ryan, I agree with you that it is our responsibility as “technologists and scholar-practitioners to help organizations make decisions regarding technology adoption that will benefit them the most.”. However, is there any platform or a procedure that we can follow to submit our suggestions? For example, I emailed the BC ministry of education newsletter once to suggest some modification and they haven’t even replied to me. I am not sure how willingness they are to our opinion toward their fixed procedure. When I was doing my practicum, I also used MyEd (like Laura). I don’t remember if I got any training and we just had to figure things by ourselves. I am surprised that after 5 years, they still didn’t provide much training or at least simplify the platform requirement.
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    3. Alice Shin
      I appreciate your comments, Ryan, and particularly with the distinction between the k-12, higher education marketplace and the corporate world, but in the end, education and industry and the marketplace for both can be equally fractured, depending, on found on the bent of the buyer. With k-12 and higher education, funding is from the government (the buyer) which triggers the political machine which we all have observed, unfortunately, in action. But this still happens in the corporate sector. One example I experienced is a large financial services provider made the first move to implement an online application process. A good idea in the face of it and how could it not succeed – a large, established, well-known company that had the best the tech space could possibly offer. Yet it completely bombed! In this case, the political will to get-the-thing-done was greater than the soundness of the technical and business decisions behind the project (similar in this regard to the public school system). I’m not even sure it completed beta before it was released. Not only were there bugs and glitches throughout, the huge volume of applications submitted all at once continuously crashed the entire system, and resulted in huge backlogs in processing. Retired staff had to be brought back to work to assist and what would normally have taken 3 weeks to a few months to 1 yr in many cases. The gist of this anecdote is that the experience, expectations, and culture of the buyer in particular – regardless of the marketplace – seems to play the key role in how that particular marketplace adopts any kind of digital technology. But, as you note, Ryan, with greater adoption comes the necessary shift in culture and ultimately this, I feel, will result in less-broken marketplaces as a whole.
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  21. RyanSilverthorne
    Perhaps it should not be, but I must admit that rarely have I ever thought about education in terms of a business venture. However, one of the most important parts of my job these days, as a principal, is deciding on technology and resources in the school. It certainly isn’t a traditional customer experience as the resources selected are seldom based on the individual and more on metrics, research and staff input. The readings are certainly correct that we at least want “to appear free of commercialism” but in truth purchase of resources is heavily influenced by marketing, exclusivity and brand recognition. There is no doubt, as the readings point out, the larger the purchase, the more removed the “customer” or student is from the decision. When a school, or district, purchases macbooks to be used by all students this is seldom a function of student needs and based more on the preferences of those at the top. Countless examples of this mindset can be linked to failed experiments where purchases were made without a real plan in place, inevitably leading to failure. After saying all of this I don’t know that I would classify the “education marketplace” as broken so much as I would say most schools and district’s approach to purchasing needs to be re-thought. The obvious answer to a top heavy purchasing model would be leaving it up to the individual teacher. However, I can say this is also extremely problematic as we are leaving it up to one individual to do research and there are major issues when it comes to vertical alignment as students move up in grades and continually must switch to new platforms, approaches or proprietary word usages. The best approach, I believe is to be Factors such as socioeconomic status, demographics, usage needs and student body needs must be quantified and compared against relevant studies. In order to avoid wasting a resource one must first determine who it is for, how they will use it and what they will do to ensure it is being used.
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  22. tara davis
    If we are comparing surgeons to teachers, I think it worthy to compare the public health and public education budgets. While both are deemed as “essential – and deeply complex – enterprises for the common good”, public health has embraced technology whereas educations seems resistant to technology. Could this be due to the roughly 200$ billion difference in their respective budgets? Does each field allocate funding towards technology differently? It appears recent budget increases in education go towards educators themselves (compensation/salaries/wages), whereas the largest share of health dollars goes towards hospitals, drugs, and physician services. In 2019, total health expenditure in Canada was expected to reach $264 billion, or $ 7,068 per person. It is anticipated that, overall, health spending represented 11.6% of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP). Hospitals (26.6%), drugs (15.3%) and physician services (15.1%) are expected to continue to use the largest share of health dollars in 2019. In total, education spending in Canada increased from $61.5 billion in 2012/13 to $68.1 billion in 2016/17. Compensation (salaries, wages, fringe benefits, and pensions) contributed the most to the total growth in spending from 2012/13 to 2016/17. Salaries and wages increased by 9.3 percent, from $36.7 billion in 2012/13 to $40.1 billion in 2016/17, and accounted for 71.1 percent of the overall compensation increase. I recommend the public education budget to increase funding towards technology infrastructure in order for the education system to benefit from new technologies at a similar rate as the health sector has.
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  23. Simin Rupa
    Is the market broken, feels similar to is the education system effective. With that, I pause. I look in my resource room, or what there was, and all I see are texts and articles held together with tape or staples. I try and register students for online sports such as RazKids and IXl, and get told we have so few seats we must prioritize those who need the most. Is the market broken? Yes. Is it specifically one piece, or one ideology, I don’t believe so. I hesitate to say education is not a market or a money grabber. As a PHE teacher, if I were to buy basketballs from a ‘school’ geared supplier they always cost 10-30% more than if I buy from a sporting/retail store. Why? It follows the same for technology, resources, materials. The amazing new programs that come out are priced too high for schools to have autonomy, yet districts are too removed to see their value. The expectations of where classroom funds come from are wrong, and the funds allocated are too few. Education needs to transition into more a saturated market, as with saturation comes competitive prices and superior products. Currently, we are bound by a lack of competition.
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    1. Connie Sim
      Hi Simin, I really enjoyed reading your post! I couldn’t agree more on your point that “we are bound by a lack of competition”. Fairly recently, a friend who is based in Asia wants to enroll her child in an online learning program that is tied to the Canadian curriculum but was unable to find one that caters to her specific needs. There may be many distance learning programs for higher education, but with elementary and secondary schools, choices are really few to none.
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      1. Simin Rupa
        Hi Connie! I find especially with relation to Canadian curriculum and education the bounds are tight. You can find many American or even UK based programs, China has so many. So it really is a lack in Canadian market
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  24. shaun holma
    I do think the overall return on investment in education is low, I would however not say it’s broken in the strict sense that education can and does function properly. Albeit, there are several mediators at play that explain whether the mission of learning is achieved. The knowledge and skill of educators at navigating said barriers (rather than the intelligent and effective flow of money), for example, can at least partially explain positive learning outcomes. While I serve an entirely different market now in Asia, the last few years gave me worthy experience in this regard. Working as a member of a team, we had a mission to develop and manage an education and employment program that was designed to meet the needs of First Nation adult learners. The vision of this project was to work alongside First Nation communities across Ontario to foster and enhance education and pre-employment training opportunities for the adult learner. The model provided a balance of services and supports to First Nation citizens with a major emphasis on building self-confidence by facilitating team-building skills and exercises in a cultural context. This program holistically delivered education, life skills, and pre-employment strategies in a way that honours both traditional First Nations culture, as well as the unique needs and values of the individual communities. Without the KSAO’s of my team members, the success of this pilot program could have easily waned for a variety of reasons. Instead, starting with a small goal of program implementation in five communities, it eventually served (and continues to serve) 23 communities in varying capacities across Ontario to illustrate education can and does function properly.
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  25. Lyon Tsang
    I feel like the market is working the way it should — assuming, of course, that we actually believe it’s more free / open than not… Having said that, it can be hard to see this on the surface though. For example, students don’t get to choose what LMS their institution uses. They don’t get much of a say in what other technologies are implemented either — I should mention however that student mobilization did drive a ban of remote invigilation platforms at UBC recently (https://academic.ubc.ca/academic-community/news-announcements/news/senate-vote-remote-proctoring-software). As a university staffer though, I know that there are actually lengthy processes involved with how learning tools are selected in the first place. Every product brings something different to the table because that’s how the market works! Management’s job is to weigh the pros and cons before choosing the “best” solution, but keep in mind that “best” in these cases doesn’t necessarily encompass just student experience — it can be anything from cost, privacy compliance, or ease of administration. Unfortunately, this last point isn’t always made clear to the end user… This is why there are ALWAYS services catered towards students SPECIFICALLY to address any gaps which apparently exist. Think SparkNotes or KhanAcademy for example, intended to present content better than instructors apparently can. Think custom essay ordering websites or homework help services like Chegg (which I just wrote about here — https://lyontsang.medium.com/contract-cheating-f20b6c2daff7), which will do work FOR students as long as they’re willing to pay.
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  26. markmpepe
    I do not think that the education market place is broken because there are a lot of educational services, applications, platforms, and systems that are available. I personally use quite a few in my music classroom. I believe it may come down to the individual user. One of the schools I work at has been partnering with a local company that manages the school tech and software. For example, if you’re a new teacher at my school and you want to set-up SeeSaw or Google Classroom for your class, they can help. They’re great, and I enjoy speaking with them when they’re at the school. Some of the teachers, the user, are still quite intimidated by technology. They’re uncomfortable with the friction when implementing it, because if the class is new to technology you get classroom management issues; it’s easier to photocopy worksheets. Some teachers will inquire about what are the best ways to assess using their recommendations. That’s where the disconnect is, they’re technologists, not formally trained teachers. They can’t help with assessment. So, maybe, if a technology support service is created for teachers, maybe that venture can be spearheaded by teachers. Or, maybe, teachers have to be more open to learning these technologies and go through the friction.
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  27. analesa crooks-eadie
    In the education system one of the biggest challenges is ‘resourcing’, the provincial government sets a certain standard. The School District is provided with money, however, due to demands from teachers and parents, more services are required, and that money is usually diverted across several categories or areas. The issue here has a lot to do with how the funding is allocated and how the resources are currently distributed. For example, having separate programs and students leaving classrooms to go see specialist paraprofessionals adds up fast. I have seen schools forced to produce an evidential paper trail to keep students labeled for funding. Therefore, I think the education market is broken, this emphasis on categorizing children inevitably has a negative effect on how we view these children and how they view themselves. In addition to this, diagnosis often comes too late in a child’s education due to waitlists, specialist shortages, and lack of funding. My suggestion for fixing this is to rebuild the model. Rather than having a hospital model where students are sent out of the classroom to different people to get “fixed”, we need to move towards the layered cake model suggested by Shelley Moore, where support comes into the classroom. This also promotes actual inclusion rather than tolerance or physical inclusion. It is also more cost-effective. Letting everyone eat one cake is cheaper than making a whole bunch of special cupcakes for individuals. Bringing Support to The Students Just Let Them Eat Cake: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WuygB4j55U
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    1. Joyce Lo
      Hi Analesa, I agree with what you wrote. Too often working at school as a teacher, we hear the phrases, “It depends on the funding” or “There’s no funding”. Being a special needs parent, I feel tired of always having to advocate to get the support and services that my child needs at school. Often in order to get funding from the government, we need to outline and provide evidence from specialists and professionals on what my child is incapable of doing–focusing on all the negative things. It is a goal of my family to promote the social model of disability so that we can empower people to find solutions, remove barriers, promote true inclusion, campaign together for equality, and take action against discrimination.
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  28. Adrian Granchelli
    The education market does satisfy its fundamental job of exchanging value or product, so it is not ‘broken’ per se, but it is terribly inefficient and unfair. The education marketplace is riddled with information asymmetry, where different players or stakeholders in a market have access to different information. This can lead to distrust, opportunistic behavior, low quality, and in extreme cases complete market breakdown (Zavolokina, Schlegal, & Schwabe, 2020; https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10257-020-00466-4). The efficient market hypothesis states that prices reflect all available information (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficient-market_hypothesis). There is also unfair competition, where monopoly-type powers are able to succeed, for example Microsoft teams. This makes it extremely difficult for small companies to compete, especially in the educational technology environment which has poor returns on investment and therefore less external capital being invested. Additionally, choice is usually removed from the primary consumer – the students. Culturally, school is mandatory for K-12 and students for the most part attend the school within their catchment region. So lack of choice to be a consumer and lack of choice on the particular product. Additionally, students are subject to the tools chosen by others. So does the consumer, the student, ultimately influence educational tools? In other markets, for example mobile phones, the phones that consumers choose (the popular products) ultimately facilitates further development, investment, and refinement. In the education market, the student does not choose their product and further development is instigated by others. Every market has their own complications and these do not make the educational market impossible to work in. Unfortunately, these are not easy things to solve. Three things I identify in working towards a better market is transparency, capital investment, and a student centred approach.
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  29. Connie Sim
    I would say it depends. If I were to take the example of an institution I know of, I would say that the education marketplace is broken. The institution is a well-established language school. After being financially impacted by COVID-19 initially, a few of its physical spaces were shuttered. Fortunately, student enrolment picked up after the marketing team got creative and made things easier for the students- accepting lower language proficiency scores, waiving application fees and offering rebates. However, even when the institution grew stronger financially, funds were not reallocated to develop the initial emergency online learning plan. Instructor remains inadequately supported and students are not empowered to achieve their learning goals. The question is: Does this happen because the institution is solely focused on making money instead of being driven by values? Having said that, if values are brought into the business, will businesses survive (and even thrive through) COVID-19?
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  30. SallyB
    I think the degree to which you view the education marketplace as broken or not, may correlate to how broken you view the entire educational system. I was initially reminded of an article I read a few years ago discussing the utility of classifying the whole education system as “broken”; I wish I was able to find it to share with you. What I remember is the suggestion that the system is not broken because it’s functioning exactly as intended and perhaps a better question is: Is this the system we need in the 21st century? Many have commented on how problematic it is that the buyer is rarely the end-user (teacher) or learner (student), and though there seem to be opportunities to work within this market, and examples where better decisions and implementations are made, it does make me wonder if there are venture opportunities elsewhere- in new (different/smaller?) education markets? Ones that may also suggest new systems of education. Taking inspiration from how media has been transformed by the internet, I am inclined to consider self-directed and home-schooling markets. In these markets, ventures (is that the correct word?) could sell directly to their end-user and learner, and could (therefore) benefit more from free-market forces and self-correct. Perhaps schools of the future will be more like organized clusters or co-ops with common educational interests and goals; and perhaps there are buyers out there hungry for a better system and the innovative products that support it.
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  31. paul johnson
    Is the education marketplace broken? I would say the answer is complicated and probably relies on perspective and scope. If the debate is around marketing and opportunities in terms of marketing directly to students, I would say no, the system is not broken. Creating opportunities for companies to market their product directly to students would probably be a mistake. If you have ever watched a ten your old playing a video game with adds, the reasons for limiting this become very clear. Marketing strategies, especially within the context of big data, have become very effective and could be harmful in terms of providing a narrowing force on perspective and opportunities during a time where this should be expanded. Profits for companies should not drive education; education and the development of contributing members of society should not look like a pyramid scheme, this would be asking for problems. So, in this context it is probably prudent to offer some protections against this practice. In terms of big picture purchases, having district level staff make those decisions makes some sense to me. Teachers are in the trenches, to offer an analogy, which inherently means that they can have limited perspective on the needs and wants of the district. This does imply that district level staff are looking at the needs and wants of teachers, which may not be the case. Perspective of leaders comes into play here. Is the leader looking to work as a team participant with teachers or do they see a “broken system” that they are going to fix? This is probably a place where, in certain contexts, the system is broken. If ego is the driving force for leadership, then we will see confounding in motivations for choices. To ensure this is not the case leaders need to have systems in place to ensure they are ‘hearing’ the needs and wants of students, teachers, and parents. So, if these systems are in place, then the system is probably not broken, if not, it is very broken. Improvements could probably be found by implementing provincial auditing of decision-making structures within districts to ensure that learning partners are having a say in the direction of learning. This would represent a very powerful form of accountability and put communities in the position to be the driving force for the education of its members. Even saying that, I do see some limitations. I think that gathering decision making data on a micro level, then coding for themes at a macro level, would be a good idea to avoid ‘squeaky wheels syndrome’ from becoming the driving force for education decisions.
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  32. luke pereira
    I am late to the posting but not being a teacher myself, I learned about school boards from my previous class, and friends who actually work in schools here in Toronto. What I can say from an outsider looking in, is that there is a lot of politics mixed in that disrupts any positive change that can benefit students in the education marketplace. Even the curriculum of sex ed was of debate between the province and boards, the switch to online learning and cutting of staff numbers created turmoil, increasing class room size, improper management of resources, union battles with the province, strikes, and bad school trustees, and the list goes on. And some of these were before covid!. I’m working on a research paper at work on “quality of education and the Canadian experience” across borders for immigrants who come to Canada for hopes of a better life, while their education experience is deemed low even though, they are doctors and engineers. Its strange that while we pride on our teachings as teachers, we seem to forget the global picture of adaptive learning. There seem to be a disconnect between teachers, students, technology and of course the governments regulating curriculum. Interesting read – https://drpfconsults.com/top-k-12-education-system-in-the-world/
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