More competition in the "education business." And it does seem to be more of a business lately, with the approaches some schools are taking to it, the approach of government towards funding it, and the hungry look of businesses who see schools losing their dominance on the business of educating people and are willing to step in.
Here comes Grockit http://grockit.com - a social network for learning that advertises that it offers "an academic edge through live group study and adaptive solo practice." Grockit: from the slang word grok meaning to understand profoundly and intuitively.
Grockit is aimed at changing how educators teach and how students learn. Note their buzz phrases: individualized instruction, extends learning outside of the classroom in ways that students want to learn, provides detailed insights into each student's strengths and needs, uses adaptive technology, social gaming, social networking, and a curriculum aligned to state and national standards.
Grockit is one of a number of companies - DreamBox, SmartyCard, Brightstorm that are selling a new generation of online educational products that are not so much as substitute for school as a supplement. These subscription programs are marketed now mostlt at parents of kindergartners to high-school seniors. They offer SAT and ACT but also GRE, GMAT and programs like Grockit's "Summer Enrichment Academy."
Perhaps, the immediate threat is to professional tutors and traditional test review services, but I see these programs as more erosion at the edge of academia. Where will people go to get their learning in ten or twenty years? Will it be associated with a school? Will it matter if the learning is attached to a diploma or degree?