Most would agree that marketing is key. Ratings rule in sports, entertainment, business, mass media, and in education. If a person, idea, program, or device is not marketed well, he, she, or it doesn’t exist. But, how many would claim that educators need marketing skills? One skill that many of us ignore when discussing 21st century skills for educators is marketing.
Learning to Market
Teachers need to learn about effective marketing strategies. If educators lack the skills to market educational ideas and products, they will be taken over by the business world and mass media. If educators don’t know how to market scholary-based educational content, no one will know about it. There’s a great deal of layman-based content that is getting a great deal of popularity. No one cares whether a program or content is relevant or not as long as it has ratings.
Popularity & Reality
Is popularity an indication of reality? The current popularity of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs and the Khan Academy are examples of popularity overriding reality. For example, educators are ignored when they express the mistakes made in the Math videos created by Mr. Khan. They are attacked for criticizing the content or the procedures used to solve Math problems or pointing to a mistake in any of the Khan videos. However, does popularity make things right? Shouldn’t we listen to Math experts?
Criticism of Khan’s Videos
MOOCs are Killing Creativity
Is learning through listening or watching videos the future? If so, how is it different from the past? Technology may have changed how the information is transmitted, but the method is the same. It’s easy to place content on the Internet by sharing it in the Khan Academy or on MOOCs from prestigious universities through great programs that make money. But where is the human element? Where is creativity? Where are higher order thinking skills? Isn’t this just another way of promoting passive learning to ensure that the future generations will stay dumb?
Ken Robinson is Right
My personal example, is WizIQ. I had tried various live online classes such as Interwise, Elluminate, Webex, Webtogo, Adobe Connect before WizIQ came into my life in 2007. I have never looked back. WizIQ is clearly the best virtual classroom program around, but has not caught on as you would expect because people seem to go with the flow regardless of whether the product is good or bad.
People use web technologies because of the ratings they receive. It’s almost like the story of the Naked King. No one seems to care whether the information is correct or not or whether the program is of the best quality or not. If lots of people use the content or the program, it must be great. This is the dumbing effect of passive learning we promote with the videos on Khan Academy and the MOOCs.
Educational TV, MOOCs, the Khan Academy
What do educational TV, MOOCs, and the Khan Academy have in common? They are all based on traditional passive learning methods and on reaching the masses. Is this what we want to promote? If we cannot fight marketing of conformity, let’s try to teach educators about marketing so they can make a difference and bring us to a future that is based on reality and the truth. Let’s promote creativity, let go of conformity and traditional passive learning, and find ways of solving and resolving world problems collaboratively.
Educating the Public
The public needs to be educated on what is valid information and what is not. Educators’ new role is to market and get the ratings they deserve. So, let’s educate educators on how to market research-based content and effective learning programs so that we don’t stay dumb.
Is the King Naked? Based on “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, a Danish fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen and first published in 1837 (Wikipedia).