What is the Uber of Education?

The first day of our #pennsv16 adventure began at Wharton’s San Francisco campus. On our ride over, the question of ‘What is the Uber of education?’ was posed. As someone new to Uber, (yes, I downloaded the app upon arrival at the SFO airport), it was interesting to think about how Uber has disrupted the traditional transportation industry. Even more intriguing, was trying to think about an equivalently disruptive innovation within the education industry.

Working in a school with a rich and deeply-rooted history, I think the tension between innovation and tradition is ever present. Being relatively new to this particular school myself, I’m interested in how we might continue to develop our identity without simultaneously becoming trapped by it. Particularly within high-performing schools, the challenge seems to be not only articulating the value in disrupting something that’s already considered to be ‘good,’ but then acting upon that thinking.

Lately I’ve been thinking about what it would be like to start a school from scratch.

Would it be easier to innovate in the absence of a history, with a team of people building a school culture together rather than assimilating into already existing structures?

Conversely, is it more challenging to develop and ultimately disrupt a culture that doesn’t exist? Would Uber exist if there were no taxis preceding it? What does this mean for our schools and their leaders?

Notes from the day: 

Notes #pennsv16 Day One

High-Tech vs No Tech

In working on my thesis & an upcoming panel on technology in the classroom-you could say I’ve been tech-obsessed lately. However, I think it’s important to stop and consider the difference between viewing technology as a shiny new tool versus a means of enhancing student learning. Adults get so caught up in focusing on the new and shiny and loose sight of what we actually want students to learn by using technology.

This reminded me of an awesome story I came across a while back about a kid named Caine. He is a 9 year old boy who built an elaborate cardboard arcade in his dad’s used auto parts store. See the story below:

So what can we learn from Caine? I think in our tech-obsessed culture it is important to reflect on how our students are actually using technology. If the goal is to help kids develop their skills in critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity, do we absolutely need technology? I would say that Caine’s arcade is an example of how those skills can be developed in kids with out relying on any technology.