Bill Gates recently hailed teaching as the next big thing in education technology.
This makes perfect sense, but has run counter to many of the most recent education technology efforts: those efforts focused purely on technology, but ignored teaching.
Teaching, ultimately, cannot be ignored because it is teachers that impart the technology into students. If you teach the teacher, and use technology to make them better, then student improvement will follow.
In his discussion on teaching as the next big thing in education technology, Gates particularly praised Think Cerca, a Chicago-based education technology company, as an example of ways to teach the teacher and improve performance through them. Think Cerca's software educates teachers on how to better teach and communicate common core standard education to their students.
I caught up with Think Cerca founder and CEO Eileen Murphy Buckley and we discussed the future of education technology and both the holdups and exciting future of education innovation.
1) What is the biggest holdup for innovation?
"The greatest holdup has been lack of venture investment in education. That is changing, it could be changing faster.
But, despite slow change on the venture side, there is a lot of investing on the non-profit and political-government side. In addition, a very high percentage of new school bonds issued are for new technologies and personalized learning software, which is pushing stronger innovation in the classroom."
2) How do you invest in R&D versus sales?
"Bill Gates recently discussed the lack of innovation in education R&D and his foundation's efforts to address this. I think this is an extremely important step. Investments in education have to be viewed from the same R&D lens as for, say, an artificial intelligence company. If innovation in education is treated as investment in new developments for the future, that will increase results."
3) What do you believe is the next big thing in education technology?
"I believe it will be what it has never been about - but always needed to be - improving teacher effectiveness. It will be about instruction. Educators don't want to buy technology - they want to buy proven results. They want to buy outcomes.
We have developed technology at ThinkCerca that is about improving teaching. Treating teachers as teachers and investing in their capabilities. That has been proven to have the strongest impact on student learning and is the next big thing in education."