Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Indian Education Market: Ready, Steady...

The Indian education market is undergoing rapid transformation since the new minister of education, Mr. Kapil Sibal took charge in May 2009. It all started with the minister's announcement of a 100-days plan to improve quality and access.

This also raised expectations for much awaited clarity on the regulations related to entry of foreign universities. More recently, government has announced that 14 innovation universities will be open for private investments.

Several international education institutions including universities and colleges, K12 schools and support service organizations are keen on engaging with the Indian market. The market is just getting ready for the big investments and is edupreneurs are also sensing the opportunity. A Business Today magazine recent cover story The Advent of Edupreneurs focused on this emerging opportunity.

I also covered this trend of emerging models of education entrepreneurship in India on my blog. There is a lot of optimism and expectations from the new minister and if the changes do take place in the direction conducive to investors, speed to market and deep understanding of the market characteristics will emerge as the critical success factor.

Posted by
Rahul Choudaha, PhD
New York
Dr. Education

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Announcing IIR's Education Industry Investment Forum Speaker Faculty

These individuals have confirmed their commitment being at the forum March 1-3, 2010:

Dan Madzelan, Office of Post Secondary Education, US Department of Education

Josh Jarrett, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Marco Petruzzi, Green Dot Schools

Barbara Kurshan, Curriki

Steve Barr, Green Dot Schools

Tom Barber, Green Comma

John Hage, Charter Schools USA

Tom Vander Ark, Revolution Learning

Sabrina Kay, Chairman and CEO, Fremont College

Dean Duperron, President, Sprott-Shaw Community Colleges (British Columbia)

Dr. Clinton Gardner, CEO, Northcentral University

Judith Murray, Vice President – Online Learning, Thompson Rivers University (BC, Canada)

Cathy Snoddy, Assistant Director, Huntington Junior College

Darcy Tannehill, President – Online Campus, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Clement Erbmann, Managing Director, First Analysis Corporation

Dr. Noni Miller, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, Holly Area Schools (Michigan)

Matt Mello, Director of Technology, Holly Area Schools (Michigan)

Gene Hayes, International Business Development, Piccolo Educational Systems, Inc. (United States)

Toby Chu, Chief Executive Officer, CIBT Education (Canada and China)

Bernardo Bolanos, Managing Director, Southland Group (Costa Rica)

Dayna Stewart, Founder, Dayna Stewart & Associates

Christina Erland-Culver, Former Assistant Secretary for Education in Interagency Affairs

Carl Tsang, Chief Financial Officer, Charter Schools USA

Malgosia Green, Chief Executive Officer, LearnHub

John Stuppy, Partner, Edumetrix

Dr. Rahul Choudaha, Associate Director of Development & Innovation, World Education Services

Michael Ross, Senior Vice President, Encyclopedia Britannica Online

Victor Vuchic, Program Officer – Open Educational Resources, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

George Kane, International Business Development, Pearson Education

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Toby Chu and CIBT Education: The Future is Overseas

Just before I left Vancouver last weekend, I met up with Toby Chu, CEO of CIBT Education. We discussed the group's recent investment in Sprott-Shaw Community Colleges, the differences between the Canadian for-profit industry and the United States for-profit leaders, as well as the future of investing in education.

Chu, who travels all over the world, especially to China, sees branding, marketing and delivering a "Western" model of education to overseas partners as a strong trend in the education industry in the next twenty years. He also sees a lot of students coming to Vancouver from overseas to take their course of study from Sprott-Shaw to take with them back home.

We have an interview with Dean Duperron, President of Sprott-Shaw, coming up later in the week.

Here's Chu with some points on foreign / overseas education:

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Green Dot Schools

As part of our effort to build bridges between non-profit excellence and for-profit projects in the education industry, we will be joined this year by three leaders in education start-ups in the non-profit sector, who will join a discussion that talks about how for-profits and non-profits can learn techniques from each other enhance each other's visions and execution.

Marco Petruzzi and Steve Barr from Green Dot will be joined at the forum this year by founder of Curriki, Barbara Kurshan, who I shared dinner with in DC last night.

There are many other interesting people coming on board each day. I will be listing them in the next few days, as I fly to Los Angeles.

Stay Tuned this week for:

Video interview I had with K12 CEO Ron Packard yesterday in their offices in Herndon, Virginia. A very interesting man, who had some great ideas about the next generation of online learning tools and assisstive tech materials. Surprisingly, it was not the future of tech that was on Ron's mind, but the future of teacher training. You'll get this gist when I post the video in a couple of days.

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Why Online Learning?

Aside from flexibility for the student or teacher, another rationale for establishing online learning solutions that provide credit for courses taken and also count towards attendance (butts in seats):

WASHINGTON - Closing schools and day care centers because of swine flu could cost between $10 billion and $47 billion, a report by the Brookings Institution think tank found.

The government is urging schools to close only as a last resort, such as when large numbers of kids or staffers come down with swine flu.

But in the month since classes began, many schools have closed. As of Monday, there had been at least 187 school dismissals across the country affecting at least 79,678 students, the Education Department said.

The report also said:

  • The cost of mass school closures in selected cities would be $65 million for Washington, D.C., $1.1 billion for New York City and $1.5 billion for Los Angeles County.
  • Mass school closures would cause 12 percent of workers to be absent; absenteeism could be higher in lower-income households with only one worker.
  • The value of lost class time is estimated to be $6.1 billion.

Hmmm, lost class time. Now I realize students being sick may affect their learning capacity, but an agile online learning environment will reach out technologically to meet their needs across a variety of online content delivery methods. Schools undoubtedly will close when threshold volumes of sick students OR teachers are encountered, however perfectly healthy students are displaced from the physical classrooms by being forced to stay home until the "all clear" is sounded.

The loss of instructional capability in the physical realm can be offset by a virtual classroom that is delivered online.

The utilization of the virtual solution by teachers and students naturally is interactive. If the online learning environment had all aspects digital, then the instructional component, assessment and grading could all occur electronically and never descend from the digital media. The course still progresses despite the physical school being dark.

No more "I forgot my homework at home" or "the printer was out of ink". I'll fore go time honored excuse of the domesticated canine consuming the wood pulp-based homework submissions.

Matt Mello, Director of Technology, Holly Area Schools

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Monday, September 28, 2009

When, Where, What, How and Why?

When considering the traditions of educating students, the all too common notions of when to educate, where to educate, what information to deliver, how and why to deliver it as part of the education process was pretty much a wrote process that never changed, year by year.

“Too early in the AM to be awake”,

“off to school”,

“same old stuff that was taught last year”,

“same old textbook, just the back part this time” and

“why bother shoving all this at us if we never will use it after graduation”

seemed to be the common curses shared between my friends and I as we walked to school in Flint each day back in the 70’s. You know that time – when Hippie culture waned, the birth of Disco, the Vietnam war concluded, moonshots ended and we couldn’t wait for the 80’s to “get here” for some inexplicable reason.

So much has changed since then with the education process, whether considering for-profit or public schools that to sit in a classroom of just a few decades ago would seem an ethereal, disorienting experience when compared to a typical classroom today.

Information technology developments have had perhaps the greatest influence on changes with education in the classroom. In writing that term “classroom”, am chagrined as I think what does it mean to be in a “classroom”, circa 2009? Nowadays, with connected, mobile learning solutions, the “classroom” is actually just about anywhere! And it is important to note that the pace of change with information technology parallels the pace of change with curriculum and how it is delivered. I believe they are intimately linked.

IT has changed the landscape through ever more portable computing power that easily fits in the palm of your hand and “interconnected” communications via regular cell phone calls, micro-blogging, text messaging, web surfing, social networking sites, etc.. The ability to share information effortlessly around the world is limited only by the expense of a “smart” cell phone and the intention to use it.

Just a casual glance at current technology available for students and classrooms illustrates some obvious capabilities and benefits for students, whether K-12 grade levels or attending colleges, universities or trade schools.

Readily available smartphones and wireless connected netbooks have liberated students from having to coordinate their entire learning process to specific times and locale where their paper-based content can be reviewed. My iPhone can be used for the “quick hit”, as a referential tool for lookup on subject matter on the internet or for navigating a course on iTunes U – checkout Apple’s mobile learning solutions. The first part of this webpage deals with the devices and the bottom of the page deals specifically with iTunes U for education institutions. Many higher level education institutions are already established on iTunes U with their courses and training videos. Here at Holly Area Schools, we’re pursuing the K-12 front on iTunes U. “Going to school” now breaks the mold with mobile learning solutions, as learning can occur anywhere the content can be retrieved, stored and played back.

Now let’s look at “What” and “How” – just one solution changing the norm, is the eBook reader. The thrust of eBook readers in the past several years has the potential to turn content that was always static due to its method of delivery, to a dynamic and engaging experience for students. Note a recent excerpt from a Computerworld article on eBooks. The eBook market has huge transformational potential for displacing traditional textbooks with an interactive experience for students when reading or listening to a textbook. That’s right; I did say “listening to a textbook”. Use of eBook readers across all grade levels can truly individualize the learning experience, regardless of the learning capabilities of the student. It is much more effective for educators to customize a set of parameters for an eBook that can be targeted for specific learning needs of students, even if they have learning or physical disabilities. There are great opportunities for development of new solutions which allow an educator to easily select from a library of preset parameters of an eBook, to deliver precisely the needed visual and audible format for each student. Development of such solutions might also incorporate State dictated GLCE’s, i.e. “Grade Level Content Expectations”.

The “Why” of adopting current, state of the art technology in the education process naturally deals with enhanced student achievement and the resultant improvements in their standardized test scores. Not simply buying into “technology at any cost”, the adoption of eBooks for instance, would greatly reduce the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) investment when compared to traditional textbooks. This assumes that textbook manufacturers will adopt eBook price structures that reflect the decreased cost of textbook duplication in an eBook format. The added benefit of eBook readers is to also have access to periodicals and newspapers simply on-demand.

Matt Mello, Director of Technology, Holly Area Schools

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Felonies Upon Felonies with Advances in Technology

Did you know that you commit three felonies a day? That's not just paranoid clap-trap.

from the article:

Sometimes legislators know when they make false distinctions based on technology. An "anti-cyberbullying" proposal is making its way through Congress, prompted by the tragic case of a 13-year-old girl driven to suicide by the mother of a neighbor posing as a teenage boy and posting abusive messages on MySpace. The law would prohibit using the Internet to "coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person." Imagine a law that tried to apply this control of speech to letters, editorials or lobbying.

Mr. Silverglate, who will testify against the bill later this week, tells me he figures that "being emotionally distressed is just part of living in a free society." New technologies like the Web, he concludes, "scare legislators because they don't understand them and want to control them, even as they become a normal part of life."

In a complex world of new technologies, there is more need than ever for clear rules of the road. Americans should expect that a crime requires bad intent and also that Congress and prosecutors will try to create clarity, not uncertainty. Our legal system has a lot of catching up to do to work smoothly with the rest of our lives.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Education: Reaching the Inner Monkey

By chance, my friend Jason Bennett, who works with Microsoft and lives in Seattle, began discussing an experiment that dealt with teaching monkeys how to see, even though they had been relieved of their sight. I didn't get all the details of the experiment, and perhaps Jason, if he is reading this, can fill in the details in the comments section.

The point is, I think that Jason's story achieves a good metapohorical representation of what makes the education industry exciting. It's totally an industry that, as a business network, is trying to deal with bringing sight to a group of people who they believe lack vision.

Here's the story:

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Seattle at Night

Just some pictures of Seattle at night, taken with my broken iPhone.

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Lunch with Tom Vander Ark and Karen Vander Ark

Many thanks to Tom and Karen Vander Ark of Revolution Learning and Vander Ark / Ratcliff, respectively.

We had lunch overlooking the water in downtown Seattle and the view was great, the acronyms were flying (SES, NCLB, etc.) and the ideas were pinging off the iced tea glasses with shocking frequency.

Tom and Karen and I talked about where the for-profit world sits in the eyes of the government, and, from an operational and investor's point of view, we looked at the different types of capital that can be deployed in education.

There seem to be some fundamental questions that are up in the air at this moment about the direction the national education system is going, and a central project on Tom's mind is how capital can be inserted into that infrastructure to achieve the returns that are always necessary in investing and business, as well as to achieve the right relationship and operational structures that make education excellent.

I have to say that I was surprised that Tom was a blogger. I guess I knew that in the back of my head, and when he mentioned it, it dawned on me that, yes, in fact, Tom blogged in his former role as President of the X-Prize Foundation.

But he also blogs now. You can read Tom Vander Ark's blog at Huffington Post.

Here's a blog about the Washington Education Association, which I think clearly relates Tom's views on what he sees as a major sticking point in education -- working deftly to cooperate with or succeed in investing in education despite the unions:

Even though strikes by public employees are illegal, the WEA picks a few districts in key media markets and runs strikes every year just to remind local and state officials who's really in charge. The Kent strike is supposedly because teachers don't want to meet with their principal more than once a week; they're trying to spin this as 'more time with the children'--please. They also mention class size, but that's a red herring in a state with equalized funding and big budget deficits. This isn't about issues; it's about power.

Tom will be giving a keynote address at the Education Industry Investment Forum March 1-3, 2010.

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Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle

Great news from Seattle on Thursday. Had a meeting with Josh Jarrett at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and it sparked off hundreds of thoughts about the future of K12 and Post Secondary learning in the United States.

By the way, Josh has a cool view from his window. You can look down to the water that surrounds Seattle. I spotted one of those pontoon boats circling the bay. Josh says they take off from there all day long. I wonder how much it would cost to rent one to Vancouver tonight....

But back to education...

Lots of the conversation is still continuing on the back channels, but what seems pretty clear from that initial communication is that there needs to be a broader discussion at the Education Industry Investment Forum, and in the industry, in general, about private and public partnerships and the role that foundations and endowments can play in investing in education, either through corporations and corporate sponsorship, lending, teacher improvement, or even in gearing technology to aid in the development of a stronger learning regimen nationwide.

Too much to write in one blog post, but we are looking forward to having more conversations with the team at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Judith Murray, Vice President -- Open Learning, Thompson Rivers University

This was a great conversation in Vancouver. I ran into Judith Murray downtown before heading down to Seattle for the third leg of my tour.

At some point during our conversation, Judith pointed out that for-profit education fills in the gaps in the market, especially needs that are voiced by non-traditional students.

Thompson Rivers University is all about "removing the barriers to entry [for education]. We don't deny admission because you don't have something. We look at what you have done in other areas to see what you have done. We do continuous enrollment, people can start everyday, and we do hundreds of admissions a week," she says.

What I love about the for-profit conversation makers I have met is that all of them seem geared towards finding more students that are being overlooked. In essence, everyone is a potential student, because everyone encounters moments in life where they need more learning -- learning about health, learning business strategies, brushing up on accounting.

Everyone, it would seem, is looking to be placed somewhere higher, or looking to achieve something. It's been great to listen to how these for-profits so aggressively search for solutions to make this possible for people.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Brief Notes from Vancouver -- Seattle

EDITOR'S NOTE: People might read this post and think I am being critical of United States students or citizens. I realize that people learn differently and that people have different goals and life concerns that keep them focused on certain things and divert their focus from other things. What I want to make clear is a question of motives in education. Do we (the United States) want to be aware of more than what concerns our individual selves? Is that question answered by answering other questions? For example, are teaching methods that gear a student's interests to international ideas just not interesting? Are teachers hamstrung by what is available to them in the classroom, through budgetary allotments, through politics? Do we really not have to concern ourselves with other countries or their cultures or their backgrounds and interests?

The conversation that I only briefly describe below answers a lot of those questions, in some ways. It tells me that we are inherently curious about other people, but perhaps we are not, as students, given the right exposure, or enough exposure to their learning styles, their cultures, or their politics. Perhaps we are only given a one-dimensional view of the world, one that is filtered to be one-dimensional.

I hope that through this blog, I can learn about ways to incorporate, for learners, for students, for investors, and for operators of schools, a new community that helps people solve problems or issues like these.

Okay, now you can read what I wrote originally, below....

The bus made it into Seattle last night, following Interstate 5 and ending up with a great glimpse of the Space Needle and the waterfront. Sitting behind me were three guys from London answering questions posed to them by a fellow American seated behind them.

It struck me that on my travels I sometimes run into other travelers who are traveling, yet who are not quite aware of the world they are traveling in.

"So, is the economy bad over in England, too?"

"I never made it much around Europe, I mostly spent it in clubs. Is there a lot of traffic in England?"

The London guys had their own take on the world. Interspersed between the American's questions and their answers were conversations between themselves that included a pretty deft explanation of the EU and the Lisbon Treaty, Tony Blair's recent comments about how he'd like to be the President of the United States of Europe -- this comment required an explanation to the American of the difference between the current setup of the EU and a federal republic -- and interesting comments about the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, their differences and the historical context (Vietnam) that the US effort in Afghanistan is couched in.

The whole thing made me wonder, what is the educational system in England like compared to the educational system in the United States? In other words, what are the purposes of education in those two countries?

Do we in the United States educate people to be accepted in the workplace in America, or in the world?

That's something I will mull over during the next two or three days. I will later post an interview I did with Judith Murray, Online Director at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia.

There you will find some interesting differences between the Canadian education system and the one we follow in the United States. Revealing, thoughtful and interesting.

And now, I am in Seattle. I guess I should have a coffee.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Personal and Professional

Some of our readers have emailed and asked me if we have a group online that allows people to get together and share ideas.

We do.

Join our LinkedIn Group and post your ideas to the Education Industry Investment Forum.

We have nearly 500 professional business operators, investors and entrepreneurs from all around the world in this group.

Connect with them today and help us shape the industry's most important conversations

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Speakers at the 12th Annual Education Industry Investment Forum in Phoenix

Here is a list of people who have confirmed their participation in the next forum we are having in Phoenix March 1-3, 2010. They have either told me on the phone they will come, or they have confirmed through email. We look forward to hearing them live, in person, because these are the people who are going to direct the evolution of the K12 and Post Secondary For-Profit Education Industry.

Investors, Operators, and Innovators like:

Tom Van Der Ark, Revolution Learning, who will be giving the main session keynote on Day One. More on that later, but you can keep watching The Eduvest Blog for information on speaking roles and panel sessions

Bernardo Bolanos, The Southland Group

John Stuppy, Edumetrix

Michael Ross, Encyclopaedia Britannica

Mary Lyn Hammer, Champion College Services

Florence Tate, Potoma College and very important in the accreditation space

Bob Martin, Imagine America Foundation

Meg Mude, The Global Business Incubator

Rob Crawford, The Life Development Institute

Steve Cooper, Tech University of America

Dayna Stewart, Dayna Stewart and Associates

Rahul Choudaha, World Education Services

Dr. Clinton Gardner, Northcentral University

Janet Matricciani, K12, Inc.

Matt Mello, Holly Area Schools (Michigan)

Christina Erland-Culver, formerly Assistant Secretary of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs, U.S. Department of Education (scroll down)

George Kane, Pearson Education

Gene Hayes, Piccolo Educational Systems

Toby Chu, CIBT Education

Dr. Noni Miller, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction, Holly Area Schools (Michigan)

Judith Murray, Thompson Rivers University

Cathy Snoddy, Huntington Junior College

Stephen Tave, American Higher Education Development Corporation

Ken Hartmann, Drexel University

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"I'm Busted" as sung by Ray Charles

Speaking of where to go when you need a loan, here's Ray Charles singing it from the soul:

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I read about Prosper in Esquire magazine.

The gig is simple. Borrowers of loans and their lenders use the interactive platform online to find each other. Borrowers set a target percentage rate for their loan -- which they may need for housing repairs, paying off credit cards, funding their college education -- and lenders gather to auction the rate they are willing to receive after providing the principal.

I'm doing it to pay off my credit cards. The savings are significant.

I'm reducing my credit card payments by half.

Can this work in the education market? Do partnerships exist in the unsecured loan marketplace between lenders and for-profit schools? If they do, I want to know about it.

If you know, let me know.

Here are some reviews of Peer-to-peer lending like at Prosper:

More students turning to peer-to-peer loans to pay for college.

According to a poll released this week by Gallup and student loan lender Sallie Mae, students on average cover 30 to 55 percent of their college costs. About 45 percent comes from parents. Grants and scholarships, obtained by about half of all students, make up the rest.

To pay off high-cost student loans, a borrower on recently funded a $3,000 loan at an APR of 12.41 percent for three years. The loan, which is posted among other borrowers’ anonymous profiles on Prosper’s Web site, was funded in three days by 126 investors who put up $25 to $100. The lenders’ return is listed as an annual yield of 9.3 percent.

That article mentions Cology, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based program that links students up with lenders.

Pros and Cons of peer-to-peer lending and borrowing

The cons of P2P lending are definitely more substantial for lenders than it is for borrowers, so if you think you want to give it a try as a lender, be very careful about the hype on the returns and default rates.

Most of the negative comments online from those that have invested via P2P sites was in the "higher than publicized" default rates and the relative return on their money after fees and defaults being less than advertised.

The biggest thing to watch as a borrower is all the potential fine print that could allow the terms of the loan to be changed if you don't make payments.

People Capital aims to be a competitor in the social networking lending space

People Capital has not launched yet, so there is no data about the interest rates that students will pay or the rates that lenders will earn on their money. Whether or not People Capital’s person-to-person lending marketplace for student loans will largely be dependent on the quality of their “human capital” rating and their ability to judge student’s credit-worthiness. Since students traditionally don’t start paying loans back until after they are out of college, it may take several years to determine the viability of the company’s business model.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

The Printed Book -- What is Tangible and What is Changeable

While I am sitting here at the Boston Public Library on Copley Square, trying to decompress after a morning and afternoon of interviews, it left me happy to see that Surabhi Dewra, a young entrepreneur from India, was also online.

The experience of being able to instantly reach out to someone on another continent, thousands of miles away, and discuss the same subject from the same points of view got me to thinking about my newest theory.

Perhaps it is not that new. In fact, it is somewhat inspired by Buddhism, and the idea that reality is an illusion. Let me refine this perspective.

Clearly there is something tangible about the world, but the momentary existence of the world offers much opportunity in the way of learning and it speaks to the general mission of the education industry.

When individuals connect, and when they exchange views, they bring into that momentary awareness of what is happening a new idea, or a fresh description of the conscious elements of the world.

this is what teaching is, and this is what is kind of problematic about standards.

boiled down:

Standards are created by the same people who, like me and anyone else I am talking about, come together, and set to root an idea about what that standard is.

In essence, they "freeze" a certain standard level, and what troubles me about this is that they leave out the opportunity for new views.

If teaching is an open space, devoid of what is real, and we inject our views into that space, forming what is to be learned by our exchange of views, then aren't we compromising chances to add to that learning in a model where review of materials or the insertion of new tools for learning only happens once a year?

What happens when budget concerns keep one model in play while not allowing another model to form?

When will it be possible for students and teachers to have just as much of a say in a real time application of editing of subject material, as they learn new things?

I can tell you that as a former teacher, sometimes the textbooks were wrong. Especially in English literature or history. we would read as a class a specific piece of information and come to a consensus that, in fact, we didn't believe that material to be right.

How can we change it? We cannot. That is the textbook. That is the printed matter.

Hope I am not getting too philosophical, but it remains to be seen, will budgetary pressures in some of the largest school districts and states in the country force a change in the delivery of publications to students, teachers, or organizations like schools?

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rob Crawford Explains the Future of American Education in a New Era

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Steve Cooper: Self-Actualization in the Internet Video

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Contact the Director of Education Industry Investment Forum

If you are a private equity investor, venture capitalist, or school operator in K12 or Post Secondary, you can contact the director of the forum for a one-on-one interview or for information about joining the annual forum.

Please contact Douglas Crets using dcrets [at] iirusa [dot] com

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Gene Hayes -- The Internationalist

Gene Hayes, International Development at Piccolo Educational Systems, Inc. in Phoenix gave me a few pointers on what to do to bring quality distance learning to an international audience.

One thing is clear. It is not enough to bring the education to the marketplace. One must do a few things to ensure that the transmission is clear, accessible and consistent with the culture in which it is offering its service.

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Mark Kantrowitz Supplies Data on Cohort Default Rates

The US Department of Education released today (September 14, 2009) the official FY2007 cohort default rates. The official rates were slightly lower than the draft FY2007 cohort default rates released earlier this year (on March 26, 2009).

CDR Draft Official
National 6.9% 6.7%
FFELP 7.3% 7.2%
Direct Loans 5.3% 4.8%

A searchable database of cohort default rates for schools

A searchable database of cohort default rates for lenders

The following table illustrates changes from FY2006 to FY2007 by control of institution:

Control FY2006 FY2007 Change
Public 4.7% 5.9% +1.2%
Private 2.5% 3.7% +1.2%
For-Profit 9.7% 11.0% +1.3%
Foreign 1.2% 2.2% +1.0%
TOTAL 5.2% 6.7% +1.5%

Detail for for-profit colleges is shown in the following table:

Level & Control FY2006 FY2007 Change
< 2 year 10.9% 12.0% +1.1%
2-3 year 11.1% 12.5% +1.4%
4+ year 8.4% 9.8% +1.4%

The Department has not published preliminary 3-year cohort default rate data. I do not expect them to publish this data until mid-September 2011.

Mark Kantrowitz
Publisher of and

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Education Entrepreneurship in India

I have posted a blog on "education entrepreneurship in India" on In this posting, I have highlighted some of the models of education and some exemplars in each segment. American investors exploring an entry into the Indian market should actively consider the opportunities presented by the spectrum of innovative models of education and related services. Undoubtedly, there are regulatory constraints in India, but the demand and opportunities may provide handsome returns in long run.

This post was brought to the Eduvest Blog by Rahul Choudaha, who will be one of the speakers at the upcoming Education Industry Investment Forum.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

The Flattening of the Education Model in For-Profit Higher Education

The interview went off without a hitch and Dr. Gardner was even kind enough to drive me back to the hotel for my next interview.

Dr. Gardner is a man with an intense personal interest in the value of education - his teenage daughter goes to high school in Phoenix -- he's also an entrepreneur at heart and incredibly interested in how to change how education is delivered as a service to the learner. In other words, he thinks of how to "tip over" the dominant business and learning models in order to make it more efficient, of better value and easier to use for the students and for the other partners in the industry, the corporations who are looking to hire talented people that develop our economy.

Dr. Gardner isn't interested in making education a commodity, though during the lunch, Dr. Gardner used McDonald's as an analogy, explaining that the education industry could do a better job of responding to the needs of the market more quickly and giving them what they want so that they can use it to practical purposes -- a better way of life -- in the job market. "Students today want it hot and now," he said, riffing off the McDonald's ad campaign.

Philosophical and practical, Dr. Gardner displayed his business interest in the education sector outside the restaurant on our way to his next meeting.

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Culture in the Desert

Sheryl Crow is playing on the restaurant radio.

I just drove through the desert to a shopping mall complex north of Phoenix. Like an oasis rising out of the perturbed heat waves in the 100-degree heat, a shopping mall complex materializes.

It is the destination. It's where I will sit down and chat with Dr. Clinton Gardner, CEO, Northcentral University.

Right now The Supremes are singing "Baby Love"

Here's the video.

Who says there is no life in the desert?

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Steve Cooper: Self-Actualization in the Internet

When I talked with Steve Cooper, founder of TechUofA and former Army education trainer, I kept thinking of The Matrix, the movie starring Keanu Reaves. That movie is all about the grid of data that comprises what we think of reality. The main character figures out its a program and he uses his mind to manipulate the program to bring about change, so to speak.

Well, Cooper is not really linked up to a virtual machine and trying to manipulate reality with his mind, but he is trying to change education by using Facebook and a few other free applications and internet-based companies to offer a free and open system.

The video is coming soon, so watch for that.

Basically, Cooper believes that his company will eventually go a few steps beyond what eCollege and Blackboard currently offer.

"Operators want to be able to modify," says Cooper. And they cannot do that with the current providers, he says. By creating an open, transparent, end-user driven education system that exists inside Facebook and runs on open API source code, Cooper thinks that he can offer educators, businesses and students an open system that enables them to drive the innovation that makes education excellent.

The result of his constant tinkering on this kind of project is called Tech University of America. He's already mentioned that several key education institutions have approached him for partnership and the company aims to have its accreditation in Arizona in 2011.

Courses will be deliverable on the Facebook platform, which will allow students to rate and grade professors and teachers on their performance. They will also be able to pick and choose the curriculum they want to follow.

The university will also deliver free online courses through Blogtalkradio, a type of podcast platform that anyone can use.

One of the interesting outcomes of this type of setup is that schools that may be suffering from budget cutbacks or looking for ways to save money and deliver value, would be able to partner with Cooper's company and embark on a revenue-sharing model by extracting revenue streams from the highly targeted ads that support the system.

There's much more to this. And the story of its founder is intriguing. Once an Army trainer, Cooper became unsettled by the direction of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, felt a calling to come home to his relatives to take care of them, and now insists on trying to bring together and build the largest interactive education system that could rival or exceed what current providers of online interactive software companies now provide.

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Rob Crawford and Hidden Disabilities 101

Met Rob Crawford, CEO and self-proclaimed "Chief Sarcasm Officer" of Life Development Institute, in person yesterday.

Tall, silver hair, dressed in bright yellow shirt, sunglasses neatly folded up and placed on the table, Crawford exudes "earthy," a word he used himself in describing how he tries to communicate with gifted or otherwise talented students in many age ranges that may feel blocked in their progress in school or society. The calmness belies an intensity about the education business.

We talked about the "pillars" of Life Development Institute so that I could get a handle on what his training classes do. Wait for a video to be posted that gives Crawford's account of where education is misguiding the nation's students. That will be a good one.

Here's what he's doing: there are all of these students, young and old, out there, who may have a learning disability or they may have grown up in an environment that blocks out their abilities because they are not "normal." Instead of encouraging a culture where those students would block out their own abilities and learn to use a "poker face" to get through life, Crawford and his team put effort into helping them access the areas they, by self will, avoid because they seem not to be good at them. For example, a highly functioning learning disabled person who may really be bad at math, but is very good at conversation -- Crawford wants him to avoid a situation in his work life where he is floundering around when, after a promotion, he is now tasked with doing budgets and numbers-focused activities. The illusion he created of having great skill and social dexterity won't normally translate into the budget issue. In short, Crawford tries to get behind that socially functioning mask that disguises the disability so that the full person can function.

The conversation took many wild turns, from the impact of Race to the Top on ancillary services to schools, to the motives of charter schools under the new Obama administration, to erasing poverty in India.

Full video up soon. Here are a couple of key quotes from the conversation:

1. “The goal is to find that safe place where you are able to celebrate who you are and be comfortable. There’s no gang of kids with Asperger’s Sydndrome where you can go and say, 'Oh, there’s my homies.'”

2. "There are boundaries and limitations in the online space. You can create community and put things together in lots of cool ways. But you want to do it in a way that is more than just text messaging and posting pictures to Facebook. You want to be able to get them to use rubric and assessment forms to help them to give feedback. All of those communication skills are part of every work environment, whether it’s a large business or a small business.”

3. "They are not quite sure of the world and they are finding out there is more to these barriers of learning; there could be emotional barriers or mental barriers, as well.”

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Questions over New York City Teacher Pay Links to Student Performance

On the first day of school in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg reveals little about questions dealing with dealing with the linking of teacher pay with student performance.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Asking Harvard's Dean of Admissions Anything You'd Like

The New York Times has a great Question and Answer feature with Harvard University's Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons/

I think they will run his answers on Wednesday. I will post some of the questions and answers here, to give you some idea of what someone in his position thinks about his role and the direction education is heading in the United States.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

What We're Reading on the Web Today

What kind of debt do you have? Is debt healthy?

A new study suggests that if you are an entrepreneur, it's not a really good idea to rack up some credit card debt, many entrepreneurs turn to credit cards to finance their businesses.

School grading system tightening? If so, the New York Times alleges that this change would make it more difficult for schools to pass the test and thereby stay open.

School Grading system tightening in New York City

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Life Development Institute on Qatar Competition Short List

Rob Crawford, who blogs on this forum for Life Development Insitute, in Phoenix, Arizona, writes to say that his company has been named to a short-list for the Qatar Foundation's WISE Awards

The WISE Awards:

WISE is a unique global event whose ambition is to create a new international multi-disciplinary platform to shape education models of the 21st century. Opinion leaders and decision makers from around the world will come together with education experts to share their visions and actions through open and insightful discussions.

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New York Times: What Are You Reading?

Because you can't use mobile phones and internet devices in the subway (thank goodness) in New York, the local newspaper wants to know what are you reading when you are down there, hurtling through the rat-infested, trash-strewn tunnels that weave amongst themselves under New York City?

Tell the New York Times what you are reading in the subway.

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