Monday, March 20, 2006

Regularly Scheduled Self-Kick

I have an idea for a business that revolves around generating materials for school teachers to cut back on the expense of textbooks. I spoke to a school teacher in person about this over the weekend. I confirmed a few things:

* Textbooks are very expensive -- double what I originally thought. Although they also have a much longer lifetime, sometimes upwards of 15 years or more.

* Most of the text gets skipped anyway, as the teacher customizes their lesson plans based on experience and their own individual classes.

* No matter how many cool interactive games and exercises are available on the net, there will always be a place for traditional books that can be carried to class, scribbled in, referenced back to, etc..

...and learned a few things:

* The typical textbook publisher offers many downloadable lesson plans, quizzes, activities, etc... already. I thought teachers were on their own to go hunt this stuff down, but it appears to be regular practice now that they get to pick and choose from a wide selection.

* Kids, in general, have access to a computer even if they have to go to the local library. So the concept of making a file available and telling them to go download and print it is not out of the question. I'd been thinking that this would be too much of a burden and the teacher would be responsible for printing and handing them out.

* Teachers already have too much work to do, even with a standard lesson plan. The idea of custom tailoring quizzes and reading material to suit individual students is scary because of the amount of work that it would involve. Plus, those students would end up hurting in the long run, since without a standard, it would be very hard to progress through several years of a subject without having a foundation to build on from year to year. (I pointed out that I'm talking about "Start with a big standard thing and customize it" and not "Build up your own textbook from scratch out of little pieces", and she seemed happier with that.)

In general, nothing too insurmountable. Basically she said, "This is a good idea that would have value to teachers." So why am I not coding my brains out right now?

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