Kno, Intel, and the Fragmented EdTech Market

Making sense of a purchase.

November 12, 2013

I’d be curious to learn how much Intel paid for Kno. Reading the TechCrunch article makes it sound like Intel got a pretty good deal.  

Without knowing the terms, it is hard to evaluate this acquisition. My gut tells me that this can potentially be a very smart move for Intel.  

The acquisition has certainly made me more curious to learn more about what Intel is thinking about higher education.

According to John Galvin at Intel, "Kno boosts Intel’s global digital content library to more than 225,000 higher education and K-12 titles through existing partnerships with 75 educational publishers”.  

The Kno app is pretty sweet, but I suspect much of the real value of the company is these hard won deals with publishers and the work involved in bringing all those textbooks to the Kno platform.

Are there any bigger lessons contained within the Intel purchase of Kno? 

What comes to my mind is the degree to which the edtech industry remains fragmented, immature and underdeveloped.

As a purchaser of technology services in postsecondary education I constantly struggle to get all the platforms to work together.  

The issue is less about dealing with multiple vendors.  The challenge is that it is impossible to find turnkey, end-to-end, solutions in almost any aspect of education.

We can start with the example of digital textbooks and Kno.

If we want to provide mobile learning content, tools, and platforms for our students we need to string together a bunch of different solutions. We would need to get whatever digital textbooks we use to work with our learning management systems. We need to add in a media management system to house, manage, and publish any video learning assets that we might have. These learning media assets (lectures, presentations etc) were recorded or captures by yet another set of systems. And if we want to understand how our students are using all these platforms and all these systems we need to integrate some analytics tools on top of everything.  

This description above totally leaves out student information systems (SIS), as well as any other platforms that touch our classes, students and faculty.

Personally, I’d rather spend less time getting all of our systems to play nicely together and more time figuring out how we can better teach.

Resources spent behind the scenes on integration work are resources that we can’t spend directly on instruction.

I’d love to think that Intel’s purchase of Kno is an early warning sign that they plan to tackle the education experience. Why not Intel? They are a $120 billion dollar company.  
Intel has the resources to ask:

“What platforms and services would be necessary for a college to offer a digitally enabled blended learning experience?”.  

“What companies would we need to combine so that we could offer an end-to-end digital learning solution?”

“How much time, money, and resources could a university save if they could leverage a unified, simple, and straightforward set of integrated digital learning platforms for their students?”

My guess is that putting all the pieces together would not be all that expensive.

A company like Kno is one building block for a unified solution.  

What else would Intel need to buy?

What do you make of Intel’s purchase of Kno?

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Joshua Kim

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