Tag Archives: Education

Hungry for Knowledge

7 Mar

 When I want takeout, I use Seamless.  One password, one time entering my credit card number, food at my door in 25 minutes.

In the new age of higher education publishing, students will exclusively purchase access codes to online content.  Why should they have to visit four different publisher websites to purchase their course materials for the semester?  Create four different passwords?  Enter their credit card information four times?

Publishers are still stuck in the stone age of brick and mortar campus bookstores.  In the stone age, we shipped our books to the bookstore, and students bought them off the shelf.  With the rise of digital content, students now must navigate our often poorly designed websites, pick just the right online bundle of content among many similar choices, and then go through a lengthy purchasing process.  We never had to worry about our bounce rate until now, but I have no doubt that we lose customers because our digital purchasing is too complicated.

Free and open courseware, the de-emphasis of the textbook by instructors, and our pricing models have already damaged sell-through.    At the very least, we must eliminate barriers to purchase by coming up with a simpler way for students to find and buy our products.

The solution: one website on which students can search and purchase the digital content of all publishers.  Students create one password and enter their credit card information just once. 

A Seamless for course materials.  Our products contain so much knowledge, but we have a lot to learn from our favorite take-out spots.

 

Chinese Takeout - With cookie and blank fortune

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A New Type of Grading

23 Feb

A teacher scribbles a breakdown of the last exam grades on the projector: 65 A’s, 107 B’s, 98 C’s, and 43 F’s.  Average: 82.5.

A number of students feel great because they easily beat the average.  Others feel shitty—they blew it and seeing all those A’s is salt in the wound.  And then the grades are erased from the board.

But instead of just reporting the grades, what if the instructor offered this instead: if the class average on the next exam increases by five points, everyone gets five bonus points on the next exam.

Or what if she went a step further, putting students in small groups with an equal distribution of A, B, and C students in each group?  And offered each student five bonus points if his group’s next exam average increased by five points? 

Would students work harder, knowing that classmates are counting on them?  Collaborate more?  Form study groups and foster a community of learning rather than just trying to master the content solo?

Group incentives in higher education are on my mind, but the logic applies to everything we do:

The next time I run a contest for my sales force, I’ll break the reps into small groups and incentivize the performance of each group, not just individuals.  The result I expect: sales reps will not only work harder, feeling accountable to one another, but share valuable advice with other members of their group, teaching their colleagues how to be more successful.

Too often in life, we reward winners and brand others as “losers” without providing any reason for individuals to help one another.  What we should be doing is incentivizing collaboration and the success of the entire group.  If we want better results, we need a new type of grading.

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