I have spent a bit of time over the past 6 months analyzing the market and watching which verticals are showing signs of upcoming innovation. Education seems to be stirring and I wonder if the entire industry is prime for an overhaul. Bill Gates seems to agree:
So far technology has hardly changed formal education at all. But a lot of people, including me, think this is the next place where the Internet will surprise people in how it can improve things—especially in combination with face-to-face learning.
A few months ago I attended a three-day conference in which not a single presentation or panel was dedicated to education. Interestingly, nearly every one mentioned the sector and its need to reform. Why is education ripe for reform? How might it evolve? Here are just a few of my budding thoughts.
- Not only has technology barely changed formal education, it seems to me that almost nothing has changed it in hundreds of years. I’m no historian, but can anyone point to a major innovation in education since the invention of the schoolroom? Perhaps you can point to Charter Schools, Home Schools, and some other structural changes, but it seems to me that these are evolutionary innovations, not revolutionary ones. If they exist, Wikipedia doesn’t seem to know about them.
- Our schools have become more and more focused on personal achievement and academic progress than on teaching skills that have direct relevance to the business world. In other words, students are graded on how much information they can retain rather than whether they have the capability to apply and leverage it. Don’t get me wrong, perhaps the most important skill for a student to learn is how to think and express oneself (one reason why a liberal arts education can be so powerful), but there is growing concern among business leaders that new graduates do not know how to leverage their knowledge, collaborate or innovate.
- Our schools still have the mentality of the industrial revolution. They are “factory-like” institutions in which the students engage with one subject at a time, have little integration between subject matter, and where individual lessons are often void of the “big picture.” We need to upgrade our educational systems to match the information age.
- Globalization, a new reality of our economy, requires new types of collaboration that cannot be taught in a classroom. Experiences are a critical part of learning that seem to be missing from formal education.