I attended the LearnLaunch 2015 Conference this weekend. It was an odd experience for me. Usually my fellow conference-goers are in the education field. This conference brought in other business-minded professional from two-person startups to venture capital groups. Terms like “go-to-market strategy” and “optimizing the algorithm to improve student outcomes” were bandied about with such frequency I was tempted to create bingo board to keep track of them all.
I don’t begrudge their efforts to improve the educational experience of students and teachers, but I have a hard time seeing how all this data (usually in the form of multiple choice questions) will create this improvement. While I have no doubt that the data can shed light on student performance, I still can’t wrap my brain around how it will create a meaningful learning experience for the student. All of these efforts seem to result in an uncanny valley, where it approximates learning, but misses the mark.
After the conference I am left with two opposing thoughts. One, many of these educational technology companies seem to miss the mark of what comprises real learning. The second thought: maybe I’m the one missing the big picture, and it is this technology that will spur on a great learning renaissance. It is the second thought that keeps me up nights.