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The GSV Big 10: Eye of the Tiger
Here's your weekly coverage corner for the top 10 stories, insights, and major plays in learning and skilling.
#1 Google Takes Aim at Duolingo with New English Tutoring Tool
There’s a reason why tigers eat their young. Twice ex-Googler and Duolingo CEO Luis Von Ahn has now appeared on the Alphabet breakfast menu, with Google announcing a new search feature designed to help people practice and improve their English speaking skills. Duolingo, with 74M monthly active users, $6.3B market cap and a passionate following, might be a little too far gone for Google to swallow them up.
#2 How Microschools Can Succeed
The fringe has become the center…well, not quite yet. But nearly 25% of all high school students are in “alternative programs” and there are 4 million students being home-schooled. Microschools potentially offer the best of both worlds…moreover, with a public that can’t agree what day of the week it is, 75%+ support school choice. Students used to be sent to the same cafeteria to eat the same meal…now we have different meals for different people.
#3 Workplace Training: Doubtful Utility of Bosses Who’ve ‘Been on a Course’
In the Manufacturing Economy with physical capital, Property, Plant and Equipment (PP&E) were viewed as a key asset on the balance sheet. In the Knowledge Economy, human capital and data are the most important assets, but hard to capture in book value. While investment in R&D is a given for innovation, investment in L&D is paramount for an enterprise to thrive…calling all CEOs and CFOs to reconcile.
#4 What Makes Someone an Education ‘Expert’?
We believe there is no more valuable job in the World than that of a great teacher. That said, there is a reason for the saying “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” There needs to be a bridge created between the Ivy Tower and Freedom Tower. HigherEd needs to look more like HireEd with professors helping students learn skills that can be exchanged for a good paycheck. The best football coach was rarely the best player…
#5 Thiel’s Unicorn Success Is Awkward for Colleges
Thank God for Peter Thiel. Not because he’s such a great investor, although he has backed Facebook, Linkedin, Airbnb, SpaceX, Stripe, and Palantir. Not for his excellent, must-read book on innovation Zero to One. Not for him apparently being an FBI informant on funny business with political donors, although that system is corrupt and needs to be fixed. Not even for him doing the Thiel (get paid to drop out of college) Fellowship….it’s for his fearless challenging of conventional wisdom, and relentless pursuit of better.
#6 Can a Donor Revolt Save American Universities?
Money talks. Universities are learning it can also walk. College was always the place where it was free to be you and me. Large donors with large platforms such as Bill Ackman are letting it be known they are done funding the indefensible.
#7 Sports Are Part of the College Curriculum, Too
My Dad always told me how important sports were for life skills…and I thought he was crazy. Sports were fun, life was serious. As Mark Twain said, “The older I get, the smarter my parents get.” Yet 95% of Fortune 500 CEOs played sports, and 54% of female Fortune 500 CEOs played college sports. And among Ivy League graduates, former student-athletes start to earn more than non-athletes after five years. Sports are the ultimate form of “invisible learning” for life.
#8 A College Free Speech Crisis: When Safety Becomes Dangerous
When “safe speech” trumps free speech, things get dangerous. Obviously, it’s important that all people feel protected and able to learn from other perspectives. But universities are supposed to promote diverse thinking to prepare students for the real World, where safe spaces don’t exist.
#9 The Misunderstanding About Education That Cost Mark Zuckerberg $100 Million
It seems that some of the richest and most well-intentioned billionaires are really bad at history. Zuck and his gang re-learned what others in the past have proven unequivocal – money can’t buy happiness….or better education. Technology will be part of the answer for how to create a more personalized learning experience but it’s not THE answer.
#10 Reduced Class Sizes at Elite NYC Schools Worry Parents
NYC has over 1 million students in its public schools and will spend $38,000 per child next year. Magnet schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science are renowned for offering an incredible education for all who qualify. The real challenge isn’t adding a few more seats to the best schools…it’s making every school as good as an elite magnet. Elite needs to equal excellence, not scarcity. Public charters such as Success Academy and Ian Rowe’s Public Prep have shown it’s not just a few, high potential kids that can learn, but ALL children.