Over the last few years education has become a hot marketplace for entrepreneurs, thanks to the rise of education focused web platforms and mobile applications. As a result, the sector of 'EdTech' is now a thriving one.
But what does this new technology and interest from the entrepreneur community mean for the future of the education sector? We schools still exist in 50 years’ time? Will University places decrease? And how can education establishments innovate to keep up with the pace of change?
It’s no secret that the popularity of universities has been dropping in recent years, and with the technological advancements we are making as a generation, I see that trend continuing if they don’t change their model.
Let’s face it; we can pretty much learn anything online these days whether it is through watching YouTube tutorials, taking a certified course or being matched up with an online mentor. Online learning is becoming so popular that even prestigious universities such as Stanford are pushing to establish all of their courses online. Courses can be delivered at a fraction of the price online and anybody, anywhere in the world can take the course. No brainer.
This does however create various problems in the education space around ensuring quality, and accrediting courses, but online marketplaces for courses / learning like Udemy and Fedora are taking advantage and flourishing.
The UK Free School Model
In the UK parents and communities are now playing a more integral role in the education process as the free school model allows anybody to submit a proposal to set up a school. Of course this process is very rigorous so only the best applications get accepted and put into action, but this agenda has allowed parents, and those with specific industry knowledge to set up schools with key focuses such as Employability and Enterprise, or even sector specific focuses such as Manufacturing or Technology.
I think this model has allowed businesses and private sector expertise to become more involved in the education journey of young people in the UK, but there is still a long way to go to truly improve young people’s industry readiness when they leave education, but it’s encouraging to see.
Role change for universities
With the rise of online education, and the rise of university fees, now more than ever I believe universities have to adapt the roles they play for students and the value proposition that they offer.
Universities can no longer get away with simply providing a course, they need to provide quality enrichment activities, a great campus and high quality social activities - as students are questioning the cost & value proposition of attending a university. Even the value of the degree they receive at the end of it are now up for debate, as is the debt amounted by the time you've finished.
The next 10 years is going to be hugely interesting to witness how the role of education establishments changes. There will of course always be a need for schools and colleges, but the need for Universities is being constantly questioned by a generation who are technology savvy, and employers are also questioning the value of a degree when that piece of paper doesn’t dictate industry and job readiness.