Thursday, December 15, 2016

What Education Can Learn from Angie's List

I spend a lot of time talking about change in education.  I honestly believe that if we don't start making changes, students will begin to realize that they may or may not need the traditional classroom experience to be successful.  It's hard to's hard to say.  But it's true.

We can learn so much from what is going on outside of education.  If we just take time to look around and pay attention, it's easy to see that everything else is changing based on what this generation needs and wants.  And yet, in education, the majority of classrooms look exactly like they looked when I was in school.  And, though I hate to admit it...that was a long time ago!

Just this year, Angie's List announced that it would be free.  They would no longer charge customers to use their services.  Sounds crazy, right?  Turns out that Angie's List realized that the majority of millennials were not willing to pay for reviews.  So, instead of expecting them to change, Angie's List decided to change.  They did what they needed to do to continue to be successful.  Facing reality and understanding who they were serving came before doing what was easy, what was comfortable.

What can we learn from Angie's List?

1.  It's important that we know our students, just like Angie's List knew their customers.  We should be willing to ask questions and have the hard conversations in order to meet our students where they are.

2.  Change isn't easy but it is necessary.  If we want to continue to be relevant, change is not an option.  It's not hard to figure out that traditional teaching is not going to work for this generation.   Change is might not be easy but if we want what is best for our students, it is necessary.

3.  Reality is what it is.  The reality is that things have changed.  The world is different and our students need different skills in order to be successful.  We can ignore that reality but the ones that suffer from that decision are our students.  It's important to see the reality for what it is and do what needs to be done to prepare our students for their futures.

Angie's list is not the only company in the "real world" making changes.  Companies are constantly reinventing themselves, changing their direction, trying new things.  Why do they change?  Because they want to stay to relevant.  They know that if they are can't meet the needs of their customers, they won't exist.

I can't help but wonder why the lack of change in education doesn't make us extremely uncomfortable.  Most teachers teach because they want to make a difference, impact the future, and help students realize their dreams.  Let's not lose sight of that simply because we have become comfortable.  Let's do what we all wanted to do when we decided to be an educator.   It's time to stop preparing students for a world that doesn't exist and instead help them prepare for their future by knowing them well and changing the classroom to meet their needs.

"Angie's List Does An About Face For Millennials." Fox Business. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.


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