InsideK12 is a new community on edWeb.net hosted by Noodle Markets. Aimed at empowering K-12 stakeholders at every level, the community will dive into purchasing practices, legislation, tech initiatives, and efficacy. When educators have well-rounded knowledge of the multitude of issues that affect student success, they have new opportunities to share data and advocate for best practices.
Q: Tell us about taking people “Inside K-12.” How did you come to realize this was a need and what do you hope to accomplish?
LS: I came up through the industry side of education, so I haven’t had the honor of being a classroom teacher–but I always felt that we never knew enough, asked enough about what teachers, and all educators, needed.
InsideK12 is going to facilitate the sharing of that information and the power of the network through a professional learning community and an eNewsletter to shine a light on the best ideas, best products, and the best ways to acquire and implement them in K-12 education.
The time is so right for this collaboration. I founded edWeb in 2008, and very few people in the industry had any idea how this was going to work–how could we facilitate real, substantive connections in the digital realm? Nearly a decade later, we have an extremely robust community. But we do see a need to dig deeper when it comes to topics like efficacy, spending, and intra-district communication.
We are investing in education, but not seeing significant improvements. The question becomes “Why?”NN: I find it heartening that, as a country, we invest heavily in K-12 education. We’re around the $700 billion mark, annually. That shows that we take education seriously. But I find it discouraging when we compare our spending to our performance. We are investing in education, but not seeing significant improvements. The question becomes “Why?”
I’ve already seen some solid progress in our work at Noodle Markets, helping educators surface the right products and services for their students through our national market network with thousands of K-12 vendors. We’re seeing increased competition for K-12 businesses, which means better products for kids, and bottom line savings for districts and schools.
We’re also seeing engagement across K-12 roles. We have all sorts of educators championing our brand of innovation, be they curriculum directors or principals. I think it’s time we see more K-12 stakeholders empowered in these conversations, stretching from efficacy to learning modalities to classroom design–all of the factors that contribute to success.
Q: Can you tell us more about the type of content you will cover? Who are you hoping to reach?
LS: Our two organizations bring different points of view. edWeb has been focusing on getting educators to share practice and technology, not necessarily tying success to particular products. Realistically, to teach and manage things in a school, products and services need to be acquired, whether free or purchased. That makes Noodle Markets essential. What is that process for evaluating and purchasing? What are people talking about? What works?We want to give authority and empowerment to all of the people in an education community.
NN: I couldn’t agree more. It can be so hard for educators to try something new so we want them to have the data necessary to take risks. We also want them to empower them with data that allows them to be able to advocate for improvements in their schools.
We’re seeing a hunger, especially on the part of principals, chief academic officers, IT directors, and librarians to find innovative products that solve old and new problems. Everyone in a school benefits when the right products and services reach students, so they should have a say in that process. We’ve also seen a need for speed from superintendents and procurement directors who are forced to do more with less. Figuring out how technology can close the gap and save time and money are important as budgets are scrutinized or reallocated.
Q: If K-12 stakeholders are more connected and well-rounded in their knowledge of K-12 finance, purchasing practices, tech initiatives, etc., what would that mean for student outcomes?
Right now, there aren’t enough ways to leverage the data, but I believe a focus on taking educators “inside” K-12 is a push that could make a big impact.LS: It should improve them, of course! That’s our Grail–the entire purpose of all that we do. We’re interested in what changes have the biggest impact and we look forward to surfacing more research and thought.
It’s the right thing to do for students. We know that ESSA, with all of its intricacies, pushes for more proof of efficacy. That type of research isn’t something that happens at the end of an initiative’s cycle; it needs to be in discovery phase, too.
Right now, there aren’t enough ways to leverage the data, but I believe a focus on taking educators “inside” K-12 is a push that could make a big impact. At edWeb.net, we want to help people take charge of their own professional development.
NN: If you think about some of the best companies that have changed an industry, for example, Uber, AirBnB and Netflix, you will find that disruption starts at the ground level. It starts among the people who feel the most pain, quickly gains momentum, and bubbles up.
If we empower K-12 stakeholders with tools and information that solve their biggest purchasing pains, we will start to see the makings of a transformation in the way we approach procurement. That is the premise that Noodle Markets was built on. Bringing transparency to a sector with practices that haven’t changed in over a quarter of a century is no small feat, but it is work that must be done. Providing information about what’s in the market, how products are performing in other schools, how legislative changes impact purchasing decisions, and where economies of scale can be created cannot exist at the fingertips of a few; it must be broadly shared.
The bottom line is that when all stakeholders are enabled and activated, they can spend their time on initiatives that really move the needle. When we use data to drive better purchasing, better purchasing will ultimately drive better student outcomes. We’re so excited to introduce the InsideK12 community to further these conversations.