Curriculum As A Service?

Red Hat is an interesting American software company.

They were just acquired today by IBM for $34 billion.

Red Hat sells subscriptions for the support, training, and integration services that help customers in using their open-source software products. Customers pay one set price for unlimited access to services such as Red Hat Network and up to 24/7 support.

The software is open-source (Linux).

It’s the services business that they scaled.

Made me think of curriculum business.

Traditionally, curriculum has been…a textbook.

But companies like Better Lesson, LearnZillion, as well as nonprofits like Match and Achievement First, create daily lesson plans.

Otherwise teachers typically make these up themselves.

There are usually 2 challenges to curriculum businesses.

1. Protection.

In China, curriculum is often copied. My Chinese entrepreneur friends have described various things they made, only to have them ripped off.

2. Teacher “Likeability”.

In the USA, the lessons plans are often bought by an administrator who is disconnected from the classroom. Teachers may find lessons hard to teach.

So often they teach their own lessons instead (ignoring the purchased curriculum), or grudgingly use the curriculum but struggle (which may drive higher teacher turnover).

My friend Eric, the founder of LearnZillion, has written about his “curriculum as a service” business. Here, here, and here.

He writes:

Curriculum-as-a-Service consists of a combination of:

a. A cloud-based platform that enables a district to publish content and track its impact

b. Digital content that provides a district with a starting point of high-quality, base material

c. Professional services that provide guidance on how to get these jobs done strategically

Can LearnZillion and others become a Red Hat, a really valuable scalable service? We shall see.

In China, this approach may have some appeal, because it provides some protection to the curriculum creator. A school could steal “b” but not “a” (data) and “c” (training, coaching).