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What does the digital age mean for Saline Area Schools?

December 21, 2009

I have been giving a lot of thought to what options we have to use the digital age to our advantage in an innovative manner.  As the State has reduced funding for education and our State Superintendent has asked us to “reimagine” education – I feel we don’t have a choice, but to get creative….and fast.

I ran across the following blog post by Seth Godin and it comes close to summing up how I feel public education needs to get the picture – things are changing fast, so let’s lead and not get run over.

Consider this quote from a high-ranking book publisher who should know better, “We must do everything in our power to uphold the value of our content against the downward pressures exerted by the marketplace and the perception that ‘digital’ means ‘cheap.’ …”

Hello?

You don’t have the power. Maybe if every person who has ever published a book or is ever considering publishing a book got together and made a pact, then they’d have enough power to fight the market. But solo? Exhort all you want, it’s not going to do anything but make you hoarse.

Movie execs thought they had the power to fight TV. Record execs thought they had the power to fight iTunes. Magazine execs thought they had the power to fight the web. Newspaper execs thought they had the power to fight Craigslist.

Here’s a way to think about it, inspired by Merlin Mann: Imagine that next year your company is going to make 10 million dollars instead of a hundred million dollars in profit. What would you do knowing that your profits were going to be far less than they are today? Because that’s exactly what the upstart with nothing to lose is going to do. Ten million in profit is a lot to someone starting with zero and trying to gain share. They don’t care that you made a hundred million last year from the old model.

If I’m an upstart publisher or a little-known author, you can bet I’m happy to sell my work at $5 and earn seventy cents a copy if I can sell a million.

Smart businesspeople focus on the things they have the power to change, not whining about the things they don’t.

Existing publishers have the power to change the form of what they do, increase the value, increase the speed, segment the audience, create communities, lead tribes, generate breakthroughs that make us gasp. They don’t have the power to demand that we pay more for the same stuff that others will sell for much less.

And if you think this is a post about the publishing business, I hope you’ll re-read it and think about how digital will change your industry too.

Makes me wonder where public education will be in a the near future?

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