common core

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News Corp. is looking to sell off Amplify after a failed experiment in the education and educational technology business. The coup de grace was a $371M write down announced yesterday. The NYT suggested “the moves highlight the difficulty that has confronted News Corporation and others looking to move teaching into the digital age, relying on the Internet and tablets to update traditional curriculums.”

Moving teaching into the digital realm is, indeed, difficult. But does anyone disagree it’s a bad idea? I understand teachers over 35 are having difficulty getting acclimated to new devises, e.g., interactive whiteboards, assessment clickers, curriculum apps and education software, but passing advanced chemistry in high school wasn’t a walk in the park either. It’s a learning thing.

Professional development in K12 is such a big business because many teachers don’t get the new technology. Layer that with new Common Core standards and you are beginning to see the “perfect storm.”

Amplify will be bought by either Pearson or Google (or a smart super-rich tech spender) who will reengineer how to teach teachers to teach, using a new digital curriculum. It won’t be easy, but when it works (and it will), the results will change U.S. education by leaps.

Ar-ne Dun-can, clap, clap, clap clap clap. (Baseball stadium reference.)

Peace.

 

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I wrote a biz/dev letter to a software company owner last week explaining what a pain in the ass RFPs are for most companies. My suggestion was to extend his product in such a way that it replaces RFPs.  Pent up demand in marketing is a great thing.

As big data engulfs us, there’s a mad rush toward replication and standards that save time. So in K12 education we have Common Core. In college applications we have the Common Application. In business the RFP. But as were search for common, what becomes of the uncommon? I fear it is often lost.

I sat through an online phone demo yesterday for an amazing platform product, conducted by a really smart tele-sales guy. A brit. He didn’t fall into that trap of repeating my name ad nauseam, but you could tell he was scripted. He even made fun of the script to be a bit uncommon.

In the marketing field, there are lots of tool makers trying to streamline selling. To make selling common. The reason the ad business is stronger than ever is because of the hunt for the common. The best ad shops are repelled by the word.  Sadly, uncommon by itself doesn’t always sell. Uncommon with a purpose — with a brand strategy — does. 

That’s why when I sell brand ideas in the C-suite, decision maker invariably buy, but with a pang of discomfort. (Do we have to use that one word?)  That’s when I know I’ve got them. Uncommon.

Peace.  

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Engage Maslow.

Is it easy to engage the angry? Of course it is. Toss a match. Is it easy to engage Zen-ed out lovers of life? Sure, toss a petal or feather.

Talking sports with a sports guy, Pearl Jam with a Ten Club member, Common Core with a teacher – these are topics about which people can easily engage; even people who don’t know one another. When it comes to selling, however, engagement is not so easy.  That’s why the word “engagement” is such a popular topic in marketing.  Fred C. Poppe, often wrote about engagement in the 70s and 80 and it did him well, but today engagement is almost a cult-like pursuit. 

People are not always consumers.  Sometimes, they are just people. When you treat people as consumers you treat them differently. And they can smell you a mile away. Pop marketing suggests we need to give people things of value with our marketing and communication to earn their interest. True this. But everyone’s definition of value may change by time of day, stage of life, and as Robert Scoble will talk about in his upcoming book situational context.

The best marketing is based on a full-duplex model. A two way model. One way marketing is over. The days of things sticking to the wall are over. Today we are talking to people. People who are twitching away from our messages with increasing speed.  Planners who search for people value – think Maslow – are the best searchers. Peace.

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