Friday, June 7, 2013

The branding of education

Branded by derekGavey, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by derekGavey

In an age that is obsessed with brands it's not surprising that education is also becoming increasingly brand conscious. Coursera and EdX are gathering momentum as trusted suppliers of courses or content and many wonder if we are seeing the birth of educational megabrands that will supply the world with educational content and course packaging. We trust Blackboard to host our courses and content or we sign up with Google or Apple and the effect is that education is being forced to choose brand as the major players offer increasingly all-inclusive packages that seldom allow compatibility with those of their rivals.

Dean Groom questions the brandification of education in his post BYOD (build your own demise). Many outward signs of independence and freedom such as bringing your own device to school (BYOD) and personal learning environments are instead making us ever more brand conscious. By adopting certain brands for use in the classroom schools and teachers are helping to "market" the brand to children, students and parents.

"The impact of brandification is clear – kids use brand names to describe objects. These brands penetrate the family. The fact the brands make huge profits, avoid tax, farm personal data which they sell and routinely ‘drop’ the privacy ball seems to be of little concern. Educators are one of society's most trusted institutions – by fostering brand-value as ‘educational’ families tend to ‘deny’ and ‘ignore’ the darker agenda of profit, power and control of information and ideas."

Maybe educators need to be more cautious about overtly promoting one brand over another and maintaining a healthy skepticism to the marketing and hype. Try to use a variety of tools and apps and encourage students to do likewise rather than falling for the temptations of the all-inclusive branded solutions.

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