EDUKWEST 100 Audrey Watters Hack Education

EDUKWEST #100 with Audrey Watters of Hack Education

EDUKWEST 100 Audrey Watters Hack EducationAfter more than three years of edublogging, vlogging and interviewing I’m happy to share that EDUKWEST made it to its 100th episode!

It’s without a doubt an achievement for the site itself as you, the audience, see the value in our work. I will admit that I am also a little proud of myself that I have had the endurance to continue doing the interview series when it’s definitely a challenge to figure out how to make it viable for the team but to keep it ad free and free of charge for our users.

You will have noticed by now that EDUKWEST gets some (philanthropic) support from Macmillan Digital Education and if you know someone who would like to do the same, please put them in touch with me. If someone would like to buy one of us an occasional cup of coffee whilst editing video and audio we are happy to receive your donations as well.

Long story short, for my special episode I invited my esteemed colleague Audrey Watters who has been writing for Hack Education almost as long as I have been doing EDUKWEST.


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Although we certainly come from different backgrounds, Audrey looks at the stories from the writer’s perspective whereas I like to evaluate the market and business perspective of things, we often talk about the same stories and movements just from different angles.
I have seen so many people start a blog or podcast in EdTech and for one or the other reason abandoning these projects relatively quickly, that it’s a pleasure when you talk with someone like Audrey who is a constant in the online education space besides the obvious quality of her writing which is almost needless to mention.

As you can imagine we had a bunch of stories and concepts to discuss. To mention just a few: we take you on a (fun) ride through the inevitable but huge MOOCs. We feel that the big three, namely Coursera, udacity and edX concentrate more on their business models or how to make money off of their MOOC platforms (a contradiction in itself?), rather than intensifying their efforts in how to make the learning and teaching experience better or to lower dropout rates for instance.

We also discuss the issues with e-textbooks. DRM, why do prices still won’t come down and whether students really want to use digital textbooks anyway.

Then of course we need to give to thought to question if there is real innovation happening in the EdTech vertical or whether there are lots of startups working on small ideas with the idea in mind to get acquired by one of the big traditional companies in education like Pearson, Blackboard, Rosetta Stone etc.

This would eventually lead to the same old players prevail, the exact ones they had taken on to disrupt which geared them a lot of attention from the media.

I think another important topic during our talk was what I call insular thinking, e.g. building closed systems rather than open one, but also the lack of collaboration of academia with startups. Something I have noticed and regret since 2010. I think both sides would benefit from more collaboration. The startups learn how good academic research is done and can also learn how to evaluate data and academia could liberate herself from being labeled as elitist, living in the ivory tower and unwilling to connect with the other stakeholders in education.

All in all, an episode for connoisseurs.

How did you like this interview? Leave us a comment on Facebook and tell us what you think. You should also send Audrey a Tweet and thank her for this great interview.

Additional Links:

Hack Education on Twitter: @hackeducation
Audrey Watters on Twitter: @audreywatters
Audrey Watters on LinkedIn: Audrey Watters

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Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at