In a prescient 1996 essay he posted on the Microsoft website, Bill Gates outlined the future of commerce. In doing so, Gates, ever the advocate for education access, also may have inadvertently outlined the future of education. The tagline of that essay repeated by every marketing guru since has been "Content is king." I want to make the case that in education, this is also true. Furthermore, too few schools are leveraging their ubiquitous content, leaving value on the table and remaining in a day to day economic existence. Many of you may have read the title of this post and thought it provocative. Education is about relationships after all. Or education is about students being known. Maybe you even think that learning should not be commoditized. Nevertheless, I would argue that while all of those statements may have some truth, it is also truer every day that "Content is king" in education. Furthermore, the sooner school leaders realize this truth, the sooner they will be able to provide a fuller, more equitable, more profitable, and better education.
I would encourage every school's executive team to read the above link where Gate's essay is provided by Heath Evans, an Australian marketing maven tied to the guru of all marketing gurus, Seth Godin. As you and your team look at this document, remember that it is having its 25th anniversary this year. Marvel in its premonitions, especially those related to the subscription dominated world in which we live. Hello: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO Max, et al. Even our independent school agencies are turning to subscription-based business models. Has anyone seen ISM lately? Have you heard of Master Class?
As you read the document with your team, consider these ESSENTIAL QUESTIONs (shout out to my fellow Social Studies teachers out there):
1. "What CONTENT are we producing on campus every day?"
2. "What CONTENT are we producing that sets us apart?"
3. "What CONTENT that we are already producing, and that sets us apart is also winsome (fancy word for humbly attractive)? If it is winsome, we might find that there is untapped demand for it.
4. Finally, how can we:
A. use the technology we already have on hand since we probably built out more infrastructure in the pandemic to leverage this CONTENT to offer more ACCESS to those who may not have traditionally had ACCESS?
B. LEVERAGE the CONTENT to create new REVENUE STREAMS for our school?
As you go deeper into these discussions with your team, be talking through:
What class do we offer on-campus that anyone in the world might want to take?
Which of our teachers are so good in their respective fields, they would be considered master teachers by any measuring stick? How can we leverage their skills for the greater good without wearing them out?
What infrastructure have we laid during the pandemic school years that may help us extend what we do to others outside our traditional circle?
Why is summer camp limited to the summer? Why is summer camp the only time traditional schools allow visiting students?
Why are our afterschool enrichments limited to those who come to our campus every day?
How might the realization that "CONTENT IS KING" change the way students learn and teachers teach on our campus?
What is a FLEX class and why should every school have several?
Is the Carnegie Unit in education really still valid in a world where:
* CONTENT IS KING
* INFORMATION IS UBIQUITOUS
* TALENT NEED NOT BE CHAINED LOCALLY
* THERE IS MORE ART TO DOING THAN SIMPLY KNOWING
* MASTERY OF SKILLS WILL BECOME MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PLACE
WHERE WE LEARNED THE SKILLS
* ALL STUDENTS DO NOT LEARN AT THE SAME PACE
* MOST ARE LOOKING FOR MORE EQUITY IN EDUCATION
* THE PANDEMIC LET THE GENIE OUT OF THE BOTTLE
If, after your team has met and discussed these questions, you would like more help with solutions, RoundTable Education can help. We would be happy to help you as we have helped the schools in our client testimonies envision the future, grow their faculty, and develop their students for the future. We can come to your campus, meet with your team via zoom, or have a one on one with you as a school leader to get started.