Friday, June 7, 2013

Amazon Schools?

As I recently read the news that Amazon is getting "more" into  the grocery market I started contemplating what if schools were ran with an Amazon mentality? 

Teaching economics has allowed me to constantly marvel at the Amazon business model.  As I tell my students, mom and pop stores used to be very personable.  They knew you by name, new your size, what styles you liked and when you ventured into the stores it was often like visiting with a friend.  Than the malls entered into the fray and than Wal Mart and suddenly mom and pop could not compete with the prices of the national chains.  None of those "BIG" stores could replicate the personable feel of back in the day. Wal Mart tried with the door greeter, but just not the same impact.   Roll out online purchasing and things started to change.  Amazon went from selling books to selling everything but most importantly changed the way you did it.  We may not like all the data that stores and government etc keeps on us but Amazon has taken it and turned the clock back to the 1950's.  They know your name, your size, hobbies, anniversary, they are the equivalent of an online BFF.  They notify you when there is a special, encourage you to come back and most importantly, they always welcome you back.  Now they are venturing into personalizing the grocery industry.

Let's look at applying this model to schools.  We have the technology to make the learning experience very personable.  School can incorporate strengths, likes, heritage and whatever else we choose into the experience.  Will it take more time to create this educational experience?  Maybe, maybe not.  There is lots of software available to help schools organize and personalize so why don't we do it?  If students wanted to come to school, (whatever that environment might physically be) no one would argue that their engagement and learning would improve.  Amazon helped us to re-look at an old idea, retail, now can we do the same with education?

What is holding this personal experience back?  Lots of possibilities, from funding, to teachers unions, to poor administration, to book publishers, the list can go on and on.  I have a hard time believing the funding issue is holding us back.  Any educator that has been to an educational conference and has seen all the vendors has to question how all those companies make it if education is struggling financially?   Teachers unions continue to be an easy target but teachers deserve some protection but as stated by @stumpteacher in Unpopular Thoughts, "teachers are not critical enough of each other"  We need to get out and work together. Technology integration could make the experience so much more personalized but we continue to allow teachers to make excuses about using or understanding it.  This quote sums it up well, "Technology will not replace teachers, but teachers who use technology will replace those who don't..."

I know we don't like to compares business models to schools but I bet Amazon would build a great school.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps if teachers were relieved of more administrative duties and left more free to design work tailored to their class, we would have better outcomes? It would certainly sort the sheep from the goats in terms of teaching ability/dedication.

    The question is, where does it start? With PD, or initial teacher education? Or both? How do teachers keep their skills fresh, share ideas, get school administration on board etc etc.


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