The business of education

Education & Technology

I’ve been thinking a lot about the business of education lately. It’s not something that comes naturally to most educators. After all, education is supposed to be a higher calling, a mission, an avocation, or at least a job with decent benefits and summers off, right? Recently, though, at least the investment world has recognized that there is real money to be made in education. Probably not by mainstream teachers, at least here in the US, but by businesses that sell to educators.

A good time for Educational Startups…

The flurry of educational startups (and the amount of money that investors are throwing at them) has the feel of the dot com bubble. I even wrote a blog post on ZDNet about it, outlining the startup I would found if the venture capital were there.

During last week’s taping of review:ed, Kirsten Winkler and I focused on startups, particularly those in the ed tech space. It’s a good time to be a startup with educational technology chops; investors seem to be right on the edge of fueling a bubble where all it takes is a reasonably good idea, some social hooks, and some technical savvy in educational needs.

Well gee, I have some good ideas. I can think “social” (can’t we all?). I’m technically savvy. I’m even an educator! I should found a startup!

Sure, I’m a bit tongue-in-cheek about it, but the point is that there is plenty of money to be made if you’re in the ed tech arena.

How does this play out for educators, though?

Here at WizIQ, we like the idea that we provide a variety of tools for educators to share their expertise with students through synchronous classes and asynchronous courses and actually make some money doing it. It’s kind of a strange spot to be in. We also provide our platform to K12 schools and universities, most of whom aren’t seeking to create a profitable business, but rather better serve students, extend their reach, or improve student-teacher interaction. Of course, if schools are recruiting more students and increasing enrollment in distance education programs, then I guess they’re not exactly hurting their bottom lines are they? We’ll be talking more about this split in the weeks to come and how we believe we can address both sides of the same coin.

We at Wiziq…

Can help universities and schools meet their students’ needs and increase enrollment, even if the object isn’t purely profit. We can help the academy or tutoring organization whose motives are certainly more profit-driven than the average K12 school. We can help those teachers in the trenches who would like to share their knowledge with a wider audience and supplement their income while they do it. And we can help the individual subject matter expert monetize that knowledge.

Can we be all things to all educators?

Not exactly, but we’re in the interesting position of having a set of tools and a platform that has value for educators and learners in the broadest sense of both words. Every day I come across a new class on WizIQ that surprises me in its diversity or we sign a new school that has an innovative idea for using our virtual classroom. A better question, I suppose, is not whether we can be all things to all educators, but rather, what’s next?

Christopher Dawson

Chris is a full-time online teacher since then, focusing on teaching Business English to Adults. Rather than pushing the boundaries of technology, Chris seeks to simplify the online learning process by focusing on authentic human connections as a way to make online learning accessible for learners of all ages.

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