So what can education learn from the iterative failure philosophy of the lean start-up movement? The answer is a lot.
Take Summit Prep for an example. They use a system called Minimum Viable Product (or MVP for short) is a system where they get the educational product to students as soon as possible (for Summit this often means a lesson students interact with digitally). Then they use a constant stream of data to evaluate the effectiveness of that product. The next step is crucial: tweak, re-test, collect more data. The idea is create fast, fix fast.
The idea is that the best way to get an excellent product is to test it, see how it works, and revise it – many times. That’s how we got the iPhone 5s right?
This is pretty different from how we normally do school. Normally, teachers have two intervals that they can revise in:
1) After doing a lesson for period 1, a teacher can revise before period 2. This is obviously challenging because of the lack of time for data analysis and the amount of revision possible in limited. It is possible though, and I bet you do it all the time.
2) After the full year, a teacher takes a comprehensive look at his/her course(s) and revises to try again next year. This is challenging because it means you are looking at a lot of products and a lot of data. Not the same model at all as the MVP.
So how do we bring the model of iterative failure to teaching: collaboration. I might not be able to do this same lesson again tomorrow with a few suggested tweaks, but you can. And then another teacher can and another until we have a pretty awesome lesson to put in front of kids.
Now you can read that and say sure in theory, but in reality….
Well there’s a few places beginning this work. Take the Anthology Alignment Project (also Basal Alignment and Reading Aloud Alignment Projects) they are taking teacher collaboration to a new level to create really high quality lessons.
We can do more though. We can figure out how we can shift our knowledge and skills from building millions of tried-once lessons to create lessons that have been user-tested by thousands of students. Imagine that!
Have an innovativeFriday!
p.s. For more on Summit Prep, check out a full article here.