New Media Consortium, Nonprofit Voice on Ed-Tech, Abruptly Closes

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The New Media Consortium, a nonprofit known in the K-12 arena for publishing forecasts of emerging trends in education technology, has abruptly shut its doors after declaring itself financially insolvent.

The organization said in a statement that the decision was made after its leadership learned of “apparent errors and omissions” made by its former controller and chief financial officer.

The organization’s sudden collapse is deeply painful for the organization’s employees and its supporters, said Gardner Campbell, chairman of the consortium’s board of directors, in an interview. 

“We were completely shocked,” Campbell said. “As it became clear the extent of what we were looking at, it was devastating…It was a cause of great concern and distress for all of us across the organization.”

Based in Austin, Texas, the consortium said it has begun the process of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and that a trustee will be appointed by a court to bring the NMC’s financial business to a close.

In K-12 circles, the consortium was perhaps most recognized for the regular publication of “Horizon” reports, or analyses of emerging digital tools and ideas in ed-tech.

Two years ago, the organization’s Horizon report, released to coincide with the International Society for Technology in Education conference, predicted a growth of interest in tech that fosters student creativity and independent learning—through project-based activities, maker spaces, and other means—and a decline in passive instruction.

“[E]ducators are increasingly becoming creators, too, and are therefore in the position to lead activities that involve developing and publishing educational content,” the authors wrote.

News of the consortium’s closure was met with dismay in many quarters of the ed-tech community:

  — Lynne Symons (@SymoLyn) December 20, 2017

The consortium’s assets could be sold as part of the bankruptcy process, and it’s possible that another organization could take over its duties in one form or another, Campbell said. The NMC had a yearly budget of around $2 million and it had under 10 employees, he said.

The most agonizing part of the NMC’s closure has been the impact on the nonprofit’s employees, who are out of work, Campbell said.

“This has been a terrible blow,” he said. “We’re essentially in a kind of mourning.”

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