Learning Counsel CEO Pulls No Punches at this Year’s National Market Briefing

Market Insight
LeiLani Cauthen

At this year’s Market Briefing, based on the results of the Learning Counsel’s National Digital Transition Survey and delivered at the 2019 National Gathering, Learning Counsel CEO LeiLani Cauthen didn’t pull her punches.

“Here's my initial reaction to 2019, it feels very, very different right now than it has in the past,” said Cauthen. “When we first got on the road six years ago, the raw enthusiasm for just doing things with EdTech was great. Everybody came, everybody was all in. This year, it felt like most of the districts couldn't afford to send very many people, couldn't get their heads above water. And the results of the survey are showing that. I've been characterizing it as an ant hill that just got stepped on. If you've ever stepped on an ant hill and then pulled your foot away and watched the ants, that's what a lot of districts look like to me right now.

“Hirings. Firings. Layoffs. Re-hirings. In San Diego Unified for example, they've got a $1.3 billion pension nut to crack a year and $3 billion in revenue. It's not an easy thing. California is taking the brunt of it because of their pension crisis, and California has attrition like we’ve never seen before. 40-some districts have laid off more than 700 teachers each, and it's not slowing down. And the interesting thing is, the student loss is not to charters. Charters and private schools make up only about 50 percent. The majority of the losses are coming from homeschooling.

“I'm going to talk about why that is,” said Cauthen. “If you know what the learning council has been about for the last six years, we started by coming to your cities talking about strategy, then we talked about tactics, then we talked about sustainability because everybody face-planted into how hard this all is, right? And then we taught you analytics and then design. And now we're going to talk at this conference about the highest level of transformation which is becoming so reliant on technology that you flip the institution to now be focused on experience and humanity. That's a simple idea, but it's not easy. It's what Uber did. It's what Amazon did. first it aggregates everything into an app and then repositions all the people.”

“And that's what we're talking about,” said Cauthen. “It’s a pretty deep concept. But I think you guys can get it. So next year we're going to talk to you about why it's not happening. What are the real barriers? What are you dealing with? What are the teachers dealing with? The Learning Council in the new year is going to be putting out the new UI, UX standards because people don't know what those are and they're tired of the trite stuff. They want the real stuff. So, we're putting out standards that have to do with operations, teacher use in UI and then also student UI/UX.”

“Then we're going to talk about the shift in roles and what those really look like,” said Cauthen.  “Then we’ll get into definitional UI/UX, because by that time you guys are all going to be software experts. Next, taking inventory and real curriculum mapping for 100 percent personalization. In 2019, everybody was in the software complexity. But now we are seeing real shift in structure, so people get all in, the devices are everywhere. And then they face plant into software and then they go a little bit deeper and they're like, ‘Holy Cow, this is way harder than we ever thought.’ Now we’ve got to make sense of it all.”

Cauthen proceeded to explain and dissect the results of the National Digital Transition Survey, which was a powerfully detailed and nuanced look at the use of technology and the resulting wins, challenges and attitudes of school districts and schools in 2019. The information presented in this Market Briefing can inform and direct your company for years to come. For much more information, simply click on the video below.


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