There are various principles that the Ximera Foundation follows in the technology it creates and promotes. Above these principles is the tagline of the Foundation: “only work to create the future you want to inhabit.” Edtech offers many bad paths, such as when adaptive platforms are repurposed not as pumps to promote learning but as filters, when data is used unethically for “predictive analytics” that may be simply reinforce existing sexism and racism in mathematics education.
Cognizant of such dangers, the Foundation is committed to working towards a future that we actually want to inhabit, meaning a future where a high-quality mathematics education is broadly available.
Assessment belongs inside the academy
This is really the “theory of the firm” meaning one must decide what belongs inside a University and what belongs outside, and the knowledge of how to scale online assessment to reach large numbers of learners belongs inside the University, because assessment is a key component of academia. Academia’s core saleable product isn’t really content or curriculum (which should be made publicly available as befits a land-grant mission), but rather student data, which gets packaged in the form of transcripts verifiable by employers.
An industry which outsources its core product is a doomed industry, so one should be especially skeptical of those times when universities ask students to pay a third-party to grade student work.
Rely on open standards
Rather than reinventing technology, the Foundation connects existing open standards.
One example of this is a disdain for walled gardens. Content belongs not on any particularwebsite but on the open web.
Content separated from its deployment
The most expensive part of developing content is the author’s time, and the author does not want to re-write the book for the platform-of-the-year. Consequently, the author should author in plain text (because what other format will survive?) marked up semantically. The precise markup is not so important (considering that both XML and LaTeX amount to labeled parentheses), but it is important that the markup emphasize the author’s meaning as opposed to how it may or may not be rendered at present.
There’s huge asset specificity in math education. Large institutions already have the content experts, so the Foundation leverages the human resources already present in higher education institutions (which would be costly to replicate in industry, given industry rates for mathematicians) to assist with one thing that higher education institutions can’t build and can’t maintain: a collaborative platform for distributing interactive content and aggregate grade data to feed an adaptive model.