Can profits and kids mix? In a recent edSurge article, Tom Segal argues for the role of the “for-profit” entrepreneurship in the development of educational technology. Profit motives are what spur innovation at the technological level and therefore schools should look to for-profit businesses to further advancements in education-related technology.
To counter the argument that questionable ethics play a role, Tom Segal points out that “schools deal with for-profit institutions at every level.” He argues that expanding educational technology to the private sector also creates competition which in turn would allow schools to choose the best technology. Nonprofit institutions limit the amount of money that can be put into innovative development. Technological advances will not occur as quickly and with as much innovation unless the private sector is able to become part of the process.
Segal is focused on for-profit vendors selling technology to the schools — not on the wholesale commercialization of schools.
Jon Bower responded, “While we are starting to engineer education processes around student learning, much of the instruction process is still an art. Creating good processes and embedding them in technology is difficult, as companies from Brøderbund Software to Kahn Academy have learned.”