Innosight Institute joined the NewSchools Venture Fund and Education Elements in releasing a K-12 education technology market map at The Philanthropy Roundtable’s K-12 Education conference in San Francisco October 12, 2011. Created in collaboration with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the map is a graphical, interactive representation of the burgeoning K-12 education technology market designed to help investors, donors, and entrepreneurs better evaluate today’s landscape of education technology ventures.

Among the features of the education technology market map are:

  • An interactive graphical representation of the market that captures education technology ventures currently in the space
  • Color indicators organizing ventures into core areas such as assessment tools, data systems, online instruction, games, professional development, and performance systems
  • Profiles of each venture providing additional context and organization information

I had the pleasure of joining NewSchools CEO Ted Mitchell and Education Elements CEO Anthony Kim on stage to introduce the map to an audience of foundations and venture capitalists today. We discussed some of the implications for where we believe the map suggests foundations should and should not invest to transform today’s monolithic system into a student-centric one powered by digital learning.

In particular, our analysis suggests that foundations should focus on creating smarter demand through a variety of tactics, but should largely avoid investing in and picking winners on the supply side of the market. Some rich areas to help create smarter demand include:

  • Proof Points: Create more examples of exemplar blended-learning school models, such as Carpe Diem’s schools and Rocketship Education.
  • Policy: Support the move toward a competency-based learning system that moves beyond input-focused metrics–around such things as seat time and student-teacher ratios–and instead incentivizes a focus on outcomes by allowing funding to follow the student down to the course level and paying for student growth in outcomes.
  • Public Relations: Educating the general public, media, and parents around the potential of digital learning.
  • Build capacity: Help educate school leaders, states, and districts, for example, to know what questions to ask as they implement online and blended learning. Supporting basic infrastructure needs can be critical as well.
  • Research: Support research to learn more about what creates high-quality models that deliver real outcomes for students in this space.



  • Michael B. Horn
    Michael B. Horn

    Michael B. Horn is Co-Founder, Distinguished Fellow, and Chairman at the Christensen Institute.