Fad or For Real? Eavesdropping on the Experts at CIC

At the 2011 AEP Content in Context conference (CIC), Dan Caton (Executive Vice President, McGraw-Hill School Education), Ron Packard (Founder and CEO K12 Inc.), and Paul McFall (SVP, School, Pearson) presented at Eavesdropping on the Experts. Moderated by Maria Szalay (Senior Vice President of Product Development, K12 Inc.), the panel was a personal look at the state of the industry and where they think it’s headed. During a key part of the session, Szalay asked the experts if certain hot issues are a Fad or “For Real.”


  • Common Core Standards: All three started by saying they believe that this is for real. Caton said it’s for real just based on the muscle behind the movement, but the timeline will probably not be kept. McFall said he thinks it’s now or never based on what’s happening with international test scores. Both Caton and Packard, though, expressed some questions regarding how states will react when the new assessment scores come in. They agreed that if the students are not performing well, states could start asking questions about the efficacy of Common Core.
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to school: The experts were dubious about how well this could work with the wide variety of devices and platforms available. The key problems seem to be consistency and teacher control in the lessons if students are using disparate tools. Packard said that supporting BYOD could be a technological nightmare. Instead, they all see it shaking out as schools either letting students bring in their own device from a smaller, select list or students all bringing in iPad-style devices.
  • Open Source Materials: Here, the panel asked how to control the quality and consistency of the material. In addition, while McFall said that students and teachers may welcome a co-learning environment, Caton said there are too many fragments to make this a huge market.
  • Virtual Schools: This issue is definite “for real” according to the experts. McFall talked about how this could solve some teachers quality issues. Packard said he couldn’t think of a trend more real than virtual schools.

Listen to the audiocast from the session and hear details about these four trends.

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July 2011


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