This is going to be the next big battleground in education, replacing testing, Common Core, and Privacy. Currently proposed rules by the Department of Justice and US Department of Education are that all content and systems be 100% accessible (or a direct replacement be 100% accessible) by anyone with a disability that impacts vision, hearing, color perception, speech, manual dexterity, reach, or strength.
This goes far beyond Universal Design. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a great framework for ensuring that materials can be used by a variety of students. No learning software or content can scale without adopting UDL principles.
With the new rules, there are very powerful groups lobbying for strict adherence for any materials used in schools. And unless a powerful countervailing group (which might include schools, state departments of education, universities, and EdTech publishers) is able to assert itself, the policies may prove to be a serious drag on the education of the many in the name of equal access for all.
Brendan Desetti of the SIIA is following this closely and is reaching out to other associations to partner on appropriate responses.
The EdTech Market
Dave Hovernman of EY/Parthenon made the following points:
- While the Education Market grew 5% per year from 1990-2008, it’s been flat since. While we can expect a 3% annual growth in educational spending, there will actually continue to be a contraction in personnel and purchases, as pension and benefit costs outstrip state and local funding streams.
- EdTech spending is growing at a 7% annual rate, but from a relatively small base as print shrinks.
- Teachers are generally not satisfied (70%) with their technology products. It’s very difficult for teachers to know if the tech products they are using are actually improving student learning.
- For an EdTech product to succeed, it must be
- Easy to use (creating no additional work for teachers)
- Fit in with the ways schools and teachers already work
- Raise performance
- Be easy to find
- Technology is not going to reduce the number of teachers. Studies show that one of the most important factors in educational performance is a strong relationship between a student and a teacher. There has been a large increase in administrative expenses of schools, so backoffice applications, and those that reduce administrative personnel or costs are likely to succeed.
Mark McCusker of TextHelp won the Lifetime Achievement Award. Mark is a pioneer of assistive learning. He has broken down barriers, and this award is just a small way to thank him for enabling millions of kids access to high quality learning materials.
Kevin Custer of ARC Development and Michael Jay of Edusystemics for winning Ed Tech Impact Awards as recognized leaders with a passion for learners.
uCertify and Manish Gupta for winning 7 CODiE Awards, four more than any other company.
Schoology for winning the Best Overall Education Solution CODiE award, for the product with the highest score from the judges in any category.