In 2012 I worked on a brand strategy for a company in what I called the “educational development” space. The company sold classroom technology and professional development – in effect teaching the teachers how to use the technology. It was one of the coolest companies I’ve ever worked for. For those unfamiliar with my brand strategy framework, it comprises one claim and three proof planks. One of the proof planks in the brand strategy had to do with changing the paradigm in the “student-teacher relationship.”
During the engagement Mark Zuckerberg announced he was going to donate $100 million to the Newark, NJ school system. Throwing money at teaching and learning sounded like a good idea at the time; it was not. As far as I can tell, Newark ain’t no Mooresville, NC.
Today, Mr. and Mrs. Zuckerberg are championing, along with Facebook, a new learning management system with Summit Public Schools, a charter school partner, to reinvent the student-teacher relationship. It’s a software system and that lets students direct their learning roadmap and pace supported by intense one-on-one mentoring. It is the student teacher relationship plank in action. And it is already paying dividends in Oakland.
It seems to me allowing Newark to design its own learning plan with a pot full of money doesn’t work but allowing students to do so, with some newfound supervision and software does. Ms. Carmen Farina, are you watching?