As an entrepreneur I am always thinking about the future. What will come next, what can I do to improve our product, or what is the next market trend? One industry is on the verge of disruption: Education. This industry disruption has the potential to be the most important to date. While Apple has changed the way we interact with technology and Square or Dwolla are changing the way we conduct monetary transactions, a disruption in education could fundamentally change learning and how we interact.
The education industry covers a wide range of areas which makes this trend even more interesting. Although most people immediately think of books, classroom supplies, and teacher development, we can not forget about public/private sector financing for education (Kindergarten – College), collaborative learning vs independent learning, or even early childhood education that occurs before children reach “school age.”
Here are the 5 areas that I am most excited to see progress over the next 10 years in the world of education:
1. How we pay – As I already mentioned, this concerns both the public and private sector. Many local and state government budgets are overwhelmed with expenses for education. Most people will spend whatever is needed since this issue is important but look for startups to begin attempting to lower the costs to public organizations, ultimately lowering government spending. The private sector, particularly college, is even worse. Since when should a student pay $55,000 a year to learn? A few companies are already addressing this through online education (ex: Khan Academy) but I expect crowd-funding student scholarships to be an emerging market while other startups simultaneously attack the tuition side of the equation.
2. When we learn – In our global economy children are being taught more information at an earlier age. I expect the US to try to keep pace with this trend. Special preschools are beginning to pop up that introduce children to that global economy but look for more software and technology to be devoted to young children (2-5 years old). Scary to think that the standard may be that a student knows how to read, along with do addition and subtraction before they enter kindergarten.
3. How we learn – This space is quickly becoming crowded. Technology has already made its way into the classroom and many people are racing to find the most effective way to utilize it. From very creative approaches to completely flipping the classroom, teachers are having their eyes opened to the possibilities of the future. No longer will school be boring and useless. Imagine a world where our children go to school, play games all day and learn? Get ready because it is coming.
4. How we measure learning – In the current model a student receives arbitrary grades based on a number of factors that do not pertain to their knowledge. The smartest kid in the classroom could receive a ‘C’ after they got a 100% on the homework but turned it in 2 days late. I am a huge proponent of discipline and accountability but I suspect that this grading system will get revamped. This same model also leads to the idea of a college degree being essential in the job market. The focus is currently on the piece of paper more than on the knowledge obtained while chasing the piece of paper. I expect a shift in this thinking to a system that measures and analyzes the actual knowledge a student holds.
5. How we interact with others – Today in classrooms it is against the rules to share ideas. Don’t even think about working together on a big test… but once you get out in the ‘real world’ you will be eaten alive if you try to make it alone. More and more schools are beginning to adopt project-based learning that allows students to work together and collaborate. Watch for an integration with presentations/public speaking to have a profound impact on the creativity, audacity, and confidence in our students as well. Everyone knows teamwork is essential and I expect the classroom to figure it out soon too.
These trends are just the beginning. The education industry is attractive to so many entrepreneurs because of the large market and the social impact that can be made. Some people are driven by profits but others are driven by improving financial literacy. My hope in writing this post is that more people begin to see this opportunity and attack it. If we can innovate the way we teach and learn than we can begin to solve existing problems, prepare for future ones, and maybe even have a little bit of fun along the way.
Have you seen innovation in education that you are impressed by? What areas do you hope will change in the next 5-10 years? Share your thoughts and ideas below!