Hybrid Home Schooling’s “Whole Product” Problem

We present three steps to making hybrid homeschool work.

In Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey Moore applies the “whole product” concept to his technology adoption lifecycle. Because products never fully live up to the promises of salespeople or the expectations of consumers, innovators must augment their products with services and supplementary products that make it do everything that consumers want it to do. Think about all of the apps on a smartphone that allow it to fulfill its full potential.

Hybrid home schooling has a whole product problem. That is, for a hybrid homeschool to work, it needs additional services and supplementary elements. These include curricula designed to maximize the potential of the home/school model, professional development resources tuned to the unique needs of teachers in a hybrid model and tools to communicate with parents, who play a much larger role than in traditional models. They also need schedules, policies and all the typical resources that help a school function synced to the unique needs of their school model.

So how can schools work through their whole product problem? A couple things can happen.

#1 – Curriculum and professional development providers can recognize the opportunity that this growing school model presents.

As more parents choose hybrid home schools, there is more opportunity for organizations that create curriculum and professional development to serve them. Multiple interviews with hybrid home-school leaders point to problems that they have had adapting existing curricula for a hybrid model. This is a serious frustration for lots of schools. Given that teachers are frequently from non-traditional backgrounds and preparation, they have a unique set of needs as well that professional development providers could help meet.

Both of these groups should reach out to hybrid home-school operators, identify their challenges, and craft resources to help solve those problems. It would be a win-win opportunity.

#2 – More hybrid home schools can network (formally or informally).

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the 80+ University-Model Schools International schools are all part of a single network. Many other hybrid home schools, though, work on their own. The internet has made sharing ideas and resources easier, but there are still serious gaps there. There is opportunity for these schools to create more formal relationships with one another in order to share resources and even to pool back-office support, further driving down the cost of providing education to their students. Software licenses, curriculum materials, hardware and a host of other resources are cheaper when bought in bulk, and schools working together to make purchasing decisions could be a huge boon.

#3 – Philanthropic organizations can bridge the gaps.

Numerous philanthropic organizations are dedicated to seeding and scaling new schools and new ventures in education. The New Schools Venture Fund, The Drexel Fund, 4.0 Schools, LeanLab Education, the Charter School Growth Fund and more all try to identify promising schools and/or education ventures, help them solve problems and work toward financial stability and expansion. Hybrid home schools should pop up on their radar, if they haven’t already. Each of these organizations have their own priorities and own kinds of schools that they support, but chances are there is a hybrid home school or potential hybrid home school that would align with their missions.

These are just three steps that hybrid home schools and the people who support them can take to help hybrid home schooling flourish. There are undoubtably other needs that these schools have that may be solved by more off-the-shelf solutions that, when packaged with what the school is already offering, can meet most of the needs of the children and families who are part of the school. But, these big whole product issues must be dealt with if hybrid home schools are ever going to “cross the chasm.”

In case you missed them:

The first in this series: Can Hybrid Home Schooling “Cross the Chasm?”

The second in this series: Who Should Hybrid Home-school?