How the Common Core is Like Yelp

November 16th, 2011

Category: News

The release of Keeping Pace With K-12 Online Learning 2011 focuses our attention on increased accountability and transparency for digital providers.  While that’s undoubtedly important, I’m struck by one, and arguably the most important, benefit (referenced on page 5 of the report) of the Common Core – and that is its impact on next generation learning opportunities  – which parallels the impact of Yelp.

Before Yelp, most of us used the yellow pages or the advice of our friends to find late-night pizza, a Sunday brunch spot, etc.  However, it is apparent that there was no way to determine which restaurant had the ability to make quality food at a reasonable price.  This resulted in people being risk averse and drifting towards local chain restaurants that were familiar (despite their shortcomings) instead of the unknown local diner down the street.  Once Yelp came along, our ability to collectively test the waters, sort through the good and bad, and, ultimately, reward restaurants that make great food at reasonable prices took off.

In addition to empowering customers, before Yelp, there was limited pressure on restaurants to improve – after all, through creative marketing and brand familiarity, it’s much easier, and less expensive, to keep a customer coming in than to bring in a new one.  Once Yelp took off, their market share decreased since, with a click of a button, we can find out who truly has the best burger within a five-mile radius.

How does this relate to the Common Core and next generation learning?  With the adoption of the Common Core, educators need not rely on basal and supplementary materials from traditional companies.  Instead, teachers will gain access to a vastly expanded instructional materials market where they can work together to create, test, and refine materials and strategies that enable students to succeed – putting instructional decisions into the hands of those who know our students best.  We are starting to see the initial stages of what this could look like through websites such as Better Lesson and LearnZillion.

In addition, this common language will allow teachers, in collaboration with edupreneurs, to harness technology to develop lessons, assessments, and other tools to enable next generation learning to take hold.  Across the country, we are seeing positive results from educators engaging in these efforts, including Rocketship Education, Florida Virtual School, and School of One.

The Common Core, like Yelp, has the power to transform the teaching and learning experience for all students.  And while there will never be a substitute for high-quality teacher to student interactions, there is no doubt that opening up the instructional materials market will enable the best and brightest to rise to the top – giving teachers the information and tools they need to succeed.

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Brett Turner



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