Six Market Drivers to Watch in 2012
— Friday, December 16, 2011
Trends, market forces, and issues that will impact you and your business. Excerpted from Anne Wujcik’s “View From the Catbird Seat” presentation at the 2011 EdNET Conference.
As 2011 winds down, it’s time to look ahead to 2012. Read on for some advice about the education environment from industry expert Anne Wujcik.
Federal and State Funding: Déjà Vu All Over Again
The Department of Education funding levels for FY2012 were set as part of the April 2011 debt ceiling agreement and are essentially level with last year, except for small reductions being made to education programs that are forwarded funded. State departments of education continue to be stretched thin and will need to set priorities and spend where they can to accomplish the many objectives on their plate.
The legislative and policy picture for education isn’t likely to get any clearer until we see the results of the 2012 election. But whatever happens, there’s a movement to return more authority to the states, similar to the situation prior to NCLB. Hopefully the many lessons the states have learned in the interim will help in this transition.
The bottom line is that states will have more responsibilities and less funding. A familiar story.
Common Core-Ready Resources: Demand for More Granular and Meaningful Alignments
As the march toward implementation of the Common Core Standards proceeds, districts are seeking or creating content resources aligned to the Common Core Standards and are finding this to be an area of real frustration—despite the fact that many publishers are offering Common Core-ready programs.
There’s concern from educators that materials labeled as Common Core aligned or correlated are older materials that have been simply retrofit, not fundamentally rethought. A key focus for content providers in 2012 will be to help teachers immediately understand how products align with the Standards and to provide lesson plans or web-based support that demonstrates how to use that material in new and more complex ways. By following this advice, Wujcik says, “You become a reliable partner for districts and teachers who are beginning to internalize the new strategies needed to make the Common Core transition successfully.”
Two key areas of the Standards that will require new resources are math practices and text complexity. There’re very few resources that address any of the concepts included in math practices, so that is a pressing unmet need. For text complexity, alternative texts or summaries will no longer suffice. Students will be required to read original texts and will need support and scaffolding along the way. Anne anticipates there’ll be competition coming from all quarters to provide these materials, including:
- Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) are both funded to create model curriculum frameworks and instructional units
- Foundations, non-profits, American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
- Potential for brand-new players
We’ve Reached the Digital Tipping Point (Again)
There’s no question that the digital classroom is upon us and the teacher-led, textbook-dominated model of instruction is giving way. As evidence, Anne cites a survey by CDWG:
- 75% of HS teachers say they regularly use technology to teach.
- 41% of HS students say they’re encouraged to use technology throughout the school day, and 38% say they use technology in nearly every class.
- IT professionals report that 73% of districts are currently using or considering using digital content.
- Despite budgets concerns, 65% of schools plan to improve/upgrade classroom technology, up from 51% in 2010.
Teacher attitudes and action are driving digital resource adoption rates. According to Deepening Connections, a PBS and Grunwald Associates survey:
- K-12 teachers (62%) report that they use digital media frequently for classroom instruction, and 24% report that they use digital media every day.
- 67% believe that digital resources help them to differentiate learning for individual students.
The fact that the new Common Core assessments will be administered online in 2014-2015 is a major driver of educator urgency for this shift. As Wujcik says, “No teacher, school, or district wants their students to be digital newbies when faced with that assessment.” Educators want students to have experience with exploring math concepts, conducting science simulations and experiences, writing essays online, completing performance tasks, and understanding the rubrics that govern such tasks. Materials that help students develop these skills and provide these experiences will be essential to prepare students for the 2015 assessments.
Personalization: Changing How We Define School
Another significant trend is personalization to enable competency-based pathways, or the equivalent of individualized education plans (IEPs), for every student. This student-centric/whole child model begins to challenge the traditional concept of “school.” In this view, out-of-school learning is honored on a level with in-school learning. Students direct their own learning, supported by data, portfolios, learning plans, and relevant curricula that allows for assessment, monitoring, and management along the way. Increasingly, this is where schools want to go.
In a model where the teachers are designing individualized curricula, they need to be able to direct kids to exact learning resources that allow students to master material when they’re struggling or move forward quickly when they’re soaring. The challenge for the industry and schools will be figuring out how learning products can work in that model.
Mobile Devices: An Opportunity and a Challenge
Schools know that students are using their own personal handheld device to allow them to connect to the Internet, to each other, and to the school community for learning. They also know they don’t have the money to go one-on-one with full-fledged laptops. So they’re looking to handhelds as the potential student device that works in conjunction with everything else in the classroom.
Bring your own device (BYOD) pilots are coming online in schools so that teachers and students can connect to the Internet and the school network to access learning resources. But the array of devices being used by students runs from smartphones to tablets to eReaders. This presents numerous challenges for companies developing materials—just think about the variation in screen sizes as one aspect. Advises Wujcik, “Find a school you respect that is piloting and get your development team intimately involved to work with them on this.”
And Lastly, Professional Development: Leveraging Professional Learning Communities
For those companies providing professional development products, Anne suggests taking advantage of the heavy reliance by teachers on Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) for resources and connections:
- Create materials targeted for these communities that describe how to use your product in the best manner.
- Establish an area on your website specifically for this audience to make sharing of your content with their community easy.
- Facilitate just-in-time and embed professional development use of your content.
For more insight about trends and market forces to watch in 2012, listen to “Education Marketing Trends and Drivers: Insight to Help You Stay Abreast of Changes in the Market.” The one-hour online event featured Anne Wujcik, Managing Editor, EdNET News Alert, and Education Research Analyst for MDR. This article is based on content presented during the webinar.
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