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ED OP-ED

How credit acceptance can jumpstart education innovation 

by Jose Ferreira, Knewton Founder and CEO

Education has always been resistant to change. It is such a high-stakes industry — right up there with food, shelter, and medicine in importance — that practitioners are reluctant to try unproven innovations that could possibly lower outcomes.

Regardless of industry, innovation is by its nature nearly always incremental. Tectonic innovation is extremely rare. It is only by adding myriad small innovations that most industries see steady product improvement over time. But, until recently, education has been one of the world’s most difficult industries to measure and, of course, it is especially difficult to measure small changes. Education is also one of the most expensive industries per capita. Especially in so huge and crucial an industry, there has never been and never will be any appetite for widespread adoption of small improvements with little or no data to recommend them.

Historically, this has stifled innovation — both from within the industry and from outside entrepreneurs. Last week, I was fortunate enough to sit down with a small working group of education entrepreneurs and policy makers in DC to discuss ways to promote positive change. It was organized by AOL Co-Founder and Revolution CEO Steve Case. In addition to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Under Secretary Martha Kanter, and Asst. Deputy Secretary Jim Shelton, the group included 2U’s Jeremy Johnson, StraighterLine’s Burck Smith, Chegg’s Ann Dwane, Echo360’s Fred Singer, Blackboard founder Michael Chasen, Knewton COO David Liu, Ujjwal Gupta from BenchPrep, and Donna Harris from Startup America.

During the conversation, I advocated strongly for the government to play a prominent role in encouraging institutions at all levels to expand their credit acceptance policies to accept — without friction — online courses from any other legitimate school. I am convinced that no other one policy would do more to accelerate education innovation.

Right now, nearly all higher education and K-12 schools will readily accept credits from in-person courses that their students have taken at other schools. As the number of online courses from accredited schools continues to grow, it only makes sense that schools accept credits from these courses as well.

I believe that widespread credit acceptance for reputable online courses is in fact inevitable within a decade. But who will get there first? The schools and colleges (and even nations) that do will have a long-term advantage over those who wait. If we encourage schools to start accepting these credits right now, without onerous terms and conditions, we will encourage more schools to produce high-quality online courses — which will encourage more students to take them and more innovators to power them, with ever better features.

So let’s first play out what effects this credit acceptance would have, and then look at how best to implement it.

Read more ›

ADAPTIVE INSTRUCTION

The Knewton knowledge graph, a cross-disciplinary graph of academic concepts, is a key part of the Knewton Adaptive Learning Platform. Two new blog posts explain how the knowledge graph can provide personalized remediation and serve as a useful tool for teachers looking to develop holistic curricula

ED TWEETS OF THE MONTH

 

 

NEW KNERDS

Three new software engineers, and one QA Engineer, joined the Knewton team this month. Meet Bill, James, Niki, and Rob

SXSWedu

Heading to SXSWedu next week? Brad McIlquham, our Director of Academic Platform Partners, will be leading a session on how the University of Nevada-Las Vegas improved learning outcomes by implementing Knewton. Sara Ittelson, Director of Business Development, will also be in attendance. If you're in Austin, be sure to say hi! 

KNERD ALERT

Knewton is on a mission to personalize education for the world. We're looking for front-end developers, software engineers, data scientists, content curators, and other super-smart people to join our team. See open jobs

EFFORTS WE ADMIRE

For many, karaoke brings to mind late nights and smoky bars. But for social entrepreneur Brij Kothari, it inspired a much larger vision. What if karaoke — or something like it — could help nations increase literacy rates?

Kothari is the Director of PlanetRead, a non-profit organization founded in 2004 and dedicated to promoting mass literacy. PlanetRead innovated the use of Same Language Subtitling, or SLS — the practice of subtitling audio-visual content in the same language as the audio, much like the lyrics on a karaoke machine — to provide automatic reading practice to television viewers.

PlanetRead has found great success in India, where it subtitles popular Bollywood film songs on TV. SLS provides reading practice to over 200 million “early literates” and helps motivate an additional 270 million illiterate people.

Says Kothari, “We are on course to subtitle every song, in every language, on state and private networks.  Lifelong reading practice for a billion people is now a simple byproduct of popular entertainment."

EDTECH BUZZ

 

 

 

 

The new face of adaptive learning (EdSurge) 

A new accreditation system? (Inside Higher Ed)

Teachers and policy makers: troubling disconnect (New York Times)

Latest Department of Education report urges more collaboration (EdSurge)

@ KNEWTON HQ

Yesterday, we hosted NY EdTech's meetup on Education APIs. Knewton COO Ryan Pritchard joined panelists from inBloom, Pearson, Clever, Tin Can API, and Blackboard. Missed it? Check out the recording on our live stream

Upcoming: We're hosting a meetup on Big Data, Machine Learning, and AI on March 7. RSVP here

INSIDE KNEWTON

It began with an intra-office tournament. Now, we're bringing our ping-pong prowess to Silicon Alley. Last month, we successfully battled Tumblr. Soon, we'll be taking on bit.ly — and we're looking for other challengers!