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Education Plaza Could Be the Virtual Marketplace for Public Education

I don't know how many edbizbuzz readers use C|NET to research electronics purchases, but I've often thought public education - and especially school improvement, could use something similar.

Education Plaza has a chance to claim the place. But if it simply moves the typical education publication format to the web, a great opportunity will be lost.

C|Net provides guides for new buyers; professional and consumer reviews; price comparisons; links to sellers; news - everything an electronics buyer needs or wants in the way of information support. Moreover, because the site's professional reviewers call it as they see it and the site attracts a good number of articulate consumer reviewers, the site draws the kind of traffic that almost requires manufacturers to advertise. So it's a good example of doing well by doing good.

On October 4, 1105 Media (among other things publisher of T.H.E. Journal) announced its acquisition of Education Plaza.

The site is still a shell and the new buyers have a choice. They can look to C|NET for inspiration, or they can move the k-12 print publication model to the web.

Most k-12 magazines are written not to upset advertisers. There's nothing wrong with the stories, and the ads bring firms to the attention of buyers, but the reader would hardly rely on the magazine to make a buying decision.

Judging from the site, I fear Education Plaza's new owners will be inclined to do what they know. Sites that are essentially a database of providers linked to product and service categories are no great technical feat, and not much of a barrier to entry to rivals. (1105 Media already owns EduHound.)

Education Plaza's competitive advantage is supposed to be exclusive ties to state education agencies and boards of education, and I think it's helpful, but absent something really useful to buyers, its just not a compelling "must visit" destination. It might make some money, but 1105 Media will miss out on the much bigger business possibility of dominating k-12's online marketplace.

K-12 education needs its own C|NET, and 1105 Media could build it with Education Plaza.

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