Forget about toothpaste. Education needs a consumer revolution

New math teaching tools will create loads of data on how students learn--and could lead to a bottom's up reform of education.
Stephen Baker

A wonderful post by Nellie Lide (via Doc Searls) sketching out a future in which consumers increasingly call the shots. It echos Rob Hof's recent BW cover. At the end, she asks which industries will be seeing a bottom's up revolution.

I humbly nominate education. And I believe the rise of computer technology in the classroom will hasten this change. One example. I was talking yesterday with Ken Koedinger, a Carnegie Mellon professor and co-founder of Carnegie Learning Inc. It's a company that sells computer programs--cognitive tutors--that lead high school students through algebra courses. To date, the company has focused on selling and implementing the systems in 3,000 schools. But now, thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, they'll be focusing more on collecting data, which will show exactly how thousands of students learn, step by step. It is through programs like these that consumers, simply by sharing their data, will help people like Koedinger create tomorrow's tools of teaching.

One other benefit of these new tools, by the way, is that educators will be able to monitor the students' learning week by week--and perhaps won't have to rely as heavily on one-time tests.