Whether in a formal or informal setting, the ability to conduct research and impart knowledge has always been a crucial part of human life. That led to the establishment of colleges that are now centuries-old and have grown to become institutions. Those institutions might have seemed permanent and too dominant to challenge just a year ago, but the events of 2020 have caused a seismic shift in how people live, and how we learn specifically, such that digital education is clearly going to be the dominant force in the years to come.
This represents a lot of change in the sector, from the kinds of tutors who will be able to succeed in the new model to the tools the students and their teachers will need for an efficient learning process. That change also represents an immense opportunity for entrepreneurs — to make a profit while making a real impact on the future of humanity.
1. Interactive media
An important aspect of elearning is the ability to use a variety of media in communicating information. While traditional education models were largely restricted to text, and in some cases, audio and video, new digital learning platforms can leverage advanced technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to create a more immersive learning experience that will help students understand and retain more of the information which they are taught.
It’s also particularly helpful for training, where students gain experience using complex equipment without the risk of making real-life errors. Flight training for pilots and surgery models for surgeons are two increasingly popular applications.
A recent study by Goldman Sachs showed that education is No. 4 on the list of sectors receiving the largest amount of VR-related investments, shaping the industry to be worth over $700 million by 2025. That would amount to an increase of over 500% in the next five years. As large as those numbers are, they are unsurprising when we consider that up to 97% of surveyed students stated that they would be interested in undergoing a VR educational course. The market will always go where the money is.
2. Flexibility and on-demand education
This is another primary driving factor of the elearning revolution, and it is visible in every aspect of the system. From the fact that students can attend and participate actively in class from anywhere in the world using teleconferencing software, to on-demand classes that allow students to set their own schedules and learn at their own pace, the key is to provide a learning experience that is as tailored to the needs of each student as possible.
This flexibility means that students have full control over their learning process, thus making them more likely to stick to it. Corporate organizations have also been making a push into elearning as part of their training processes. In fact, 41.7% of global Fortune 500 Companies were already using some form of digital training as far back as 2013, and that number has only continued to grow.
This flexibility also reflects in the marketing approach. While traditional institutions are more uptight and reserved, entrepreneurs in the digital learning space can be more engaging by implementing content marketing strategies to attract users, such as the Learn a Course Online course reviews section which helps online learners share their experiences with online courses to help others make the best choices.
3. Artificial intelligence
Education has traditionally been driven by the teacher and student, progressing based on their interactions. Nowadays, advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning/neural networks have resulted in software capable of evaluating how a student is doing based on a variety of criteria and guiding them accordingly to ensure they understand what is being taught fully.
These tools use everything from how students answer quizzes to how long they spend on a page and how many times they look back at certain sections to produce personalized learning plans just for that particular student.
This level of granularity in the education system is unprecedented, giving students the ability to direct their lessons and entire learning experience with the assistance of advanced AI. When combined with the removal of time constraints and a strict curriculum, it is clear why there is such a huge interest in digital learning among teachers and students alike, and why the industry is so ripe for disruption by savvy entrepreneurs.
Education at scale doesn’t have to suck. If you ditch conventional e-learning’s clicky gimmicks, and focus instead on science-backed design principles and powerful human stories, your training will shift from tedious to transformative. Dr. Aaron Barth, thought-leader and president of Dialectic, gives progressive leaders the confidence they need to tackle their hardest people problems using scientific methods. Rooted in education, Dr. Barth founded Dialectic after completing his Ph.D. in Philosophy at Western University, keen on fusing theory with application.
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The coronavirus pandemic has taken a direct swipe across several industries such as manufacturing, finance, and healthcare among others. It has also affected the education sector. Around 1.2 billion students and youth are or were forced to study from home as a result of the virus that has already killed more than 483,000 people globally.
But this is not where the story ends. For some, it’s where it begins. A crisis likes this requires us to question our methods of teaching and learning. Big and small companies are coming up with novel solutions for the education challenges posed by the virus. The future of education is unfolding right before our eyes as digital learning takes center-stage.
Education institutions and stakeholders form partnerships.
Students have to continue learning even if it means using alternative methods. Over the past several months, we have seen governments, private and public companies, publishers, educators, and technology providers forming partnerships to find a temporary solution to the ongoing crisis. China launched a remote program to keep students learning. Primary school students received their educational material on national television.
When governments began locking down their countries, many tech giants such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter encouraged their employees who could work from home to do so. Twitter and Square employees will continue working from home even when the coronavirus is contained.
Working from home was only a temporary solution. However, it has become permanent for some employees. This, in turn, will have domino effects that can potentially extend beyond the tech industry. While the online education sector has been growing even before the start of the virus, we are likely going to see a scenario where more students opt to learn from home. It is still very early to say goodbye to onsite learning. There will always be students who prefer mortar-and-bricks classrooms.
Ed tech companies prepare for an influx of users.
Technology has become a very important factor in the delivery of education. Existing edtech companies know that. The majority of them are preparing to handle an influx in the number of users on their platforms. Education Ecosystem has been scaling content on its platform to give users a variety of practical projects to learn from. Users can complete a variety of practical projects such as using machine learning in stock trading or creating a login system for a game in Unity among others. These vary in nature and they are provided by vetted experts who have many years of experience in their career fields.
Other growing edtech companies are knocking on the doors of venture capital firms to raise funds to sail through these times. New Markets Venture Partners, an edtech VC, has seen an increase in the number of education companies reaching out to them for investments, said the firm’s general partner Jason Palmer. The bottom line is that education companies see an opportunity that extends beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
The future of online education.
Here in Europe and across the globe, education companies have become a lifeline for the millions of students who can’t attend physical classes due to the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic pushed the world toward an experiment of working or learning from home.
It is no longer just an experiment. It could be the future of education. There is still a long way to go before remote learning becomes the major norm internationally. But this pandemic has shown us what the possibilities are. And with education companies coming on board to save the day, they have set for themselves a future where anything is possible.
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