Opinion
Education Opinion

10 Platform Axioms

By Tom Vander Ark — January 08, 2014 2 min read

These may be short of axioms, but if you’re building (or buying) a learning platform, these are 10 pretty good planning assumptions.

1. Multiple materials.
Most districts/networks will mix and match free and premium content- in modules and units rather than courses- and use multiple delivery strategies (e.g.,
flipped, blended, online).

2. Integrated assessment.
Increasingly assessment is embedded in learning experiences rather than a disconnected culminating task. Platforms (or associated super gradebook) should
collect and integrate achievement data from games, adaptive learning systems, and projects.

Next-Gen Platforms, Reporting & Data Visualization

3. Personalization.
In Twitter lingo, personalization is trending. Teachers will want to know how your platform helps customize learning for groups and individual students.

4. Joy & rigor.
HIgher achievement and completion rates will take learning experiences that produce engagement and persistence- leveraging interests and
encouraging hard work. Deeper learning requires good questions, a culture
of revision (and functionality that supports it), public presentations, and a good portfolio.

5. Simplify
. The complexity of multiple content providers, academic systems, and delivery strategies is an emerging pain point. Teachers want tools that reduce
complexity. Next-gen platforms need single sign-on, simple grouping strategies, and scheduling supports.

6. Flat is free.
Flat sequential content is increasingly free; smart content is sticky and earns a premium- it’s engaging, has embedded assessments, and contributes to a
learner profile.

7. Freemium.
Don’t rely on the district slog- drive adoption with free apps that meet teacher needs. Balance easy engagement with enterprise functionality. Freemium
will fly in ‘14.

8. Cohorts & competency.
As schools slowly adopt competency-based practices and policies, learning platforms will need to support competency-based progressions. Schools and
districts will often have mixture of cohort-based programs and competency-based progressions--platforms will need to support both.

9. Design thinking.
Most administrators could use help figuring out how to blend the core and add online options (electives, languages, advanced courses) and how to introduce extended reach strategies--that suggests platform functionality as well as implementation support strategies.

10. Borrow.
Schools should join/create platform centric networks, but only the talented, funded, and brave should attempt to build a platform (see Networks, Platforms, & Procurement). The old build or buy equality is
being transformed by all the open APIs out there--platform developers can borrow open modules out there from Learning Registry, EdFi, inBloom, and ActivateInstruction.

For a recap of the 10 elements of next-gen platforms see:

Engagement & Employability Driving Next-Gen Platforms

. For more on innovative platform development, see:

The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.