Monday, March 24, 2014

Why virtual schools will fail . . .

. . . has everything to do with trying to be all things to all people. It rarely works. Companies that try to serve the masses end up offering mediocre products (Proctor & Gamble comes to mind). And, virtual schools that attempt to serve every kind of student end up offering a mediocre experience, wrapped in a mediocre education.

One of the reasons virtual schools came into existence was due to the fact that many traditional public schools were not effective. And yet over the past decade so many of these same virtual schools have begun to mirror their ineffective brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Companies that excel, that stand out, are ones that know who they want to serve, and they center their attention on them - these people are the outliers (as Malcolm Gladwell calls them), the weird (as Seth Godin calls them), those that live on the edge, not in the middle. The days of successful companies catering to the masses are over. The same is true for virtual schools.

A virtual school that takes the time to identify who will benefit the most from their educational offerings, and cater to them will be the school that stands out, that grabs attention, and the one who leads the next wave of online learning.

Where you look for these students matters. Why? Most of them are not in the mass, they are on the edge. Is a school willing to go there in order to serve them? For many, the answer is "no." However, for those who are, the opportunity to be excellent awaits.

Rather than be a mediocre school for all kinds of students, be an excellent school for a select group of students, and serve them well.

Note: "Select" does not equal "Less"

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