Classroom 2020: VCs and the Education Revolution

Entrepreneurs jumping on VCs
Entrepreneurs jumping on VCs

Mitch Kapor (Kapor Capital), Philip Bronner and Robert Hutter, moderated by Betsy Corcoran started by framing the problem with current education. Each of the speakers showed shocking graphs of educational attainment, inequity and the job market.

Philip Bronner immediately lost my intellectual respect when he started talking about how Novak Biddle invested in Blackboard around 15 years ago turning Blackboard into the de facto operating system of education. I do hope that this isn’t true. If it is, then I would consider that an affirmation of the problems, rather than part of the solution. Bronner then went on to define education as consisting of three pieces: content, somebody who teaches you the content and a way to certify that you know the content. Education as content: pretty shocking.

Hutter talked about data (Kapor would call them “anecdotes”) about programs that make good use of digital tools getting objective better results. It is Hutters goal to help scale up this programs and the last three years two things have happened that will have a big impact in this: campus wifi is everywhere now and batteries have made a humongous leap forward.

This whole panel is a complete mystery to me (to not call it surreal). Discussing education as if it is a market just sound plain wrong. I believe that the one thing that should have been discussed is the question of the actual purpose of education and who is responsible for providing it. I would suspect that each of the panelists would give a very different answer to that question and that I would have a fourth answer. They seemed to be discussing the wrong leverage points (Kapor started addressing it when he talked about how affluent the US has become and that technolology is necessary but not sufficient to solve the problems). I would have loved to hear what the panelists would say and think about this New York Times piece on education in Finland.