The educational system has been shaken and the traditional approach adopted by schools for years needs to be rethought to better take on new challenges. Let’s explore alternative options to reshape the future of education!
What if we push the boundaries of the existing higher education system as we know it, and we take bold chances by giving the freedom to students to customize their learning journey where learn-from-home, learn-on-campus and even learn-from-anywhere become part of disruptive universities’ key selling points? This would trigger a mixture of knowledge and experience that would define some core traits of students selecting to embark on that original discovery. For instance, the knowledge taught online could be combined with the on-campus experience together with peers or even workers at a co-working space, guaranteeing a 360-degree preparation. Hence, by having hybrid programs we are bringing together a revamped educational approach where students benefit from technological advances properly integrated into their learning, whether it happens on-site or off-site, and an open door to the practical business world that hints a smoother transition into both the virtual and physical workplace. Every student, every faculty and every staff member should be allowed to be part of this personalized experience that unites all kinds of different people with different ways of learning, different personalities, different cultures.
Do we know why we studied thousands of pages of English Literature or a specific Math theorem? Employers increasingly value experience over theoretical knowledge, to the extent that some corporations are even hiring people without a degree as they rather teach them the specific skills for their particular role at their company, than struggle with the fact that the academic know-how that students have acquired doesn’t satisfy the learning curve expectations of certain employers. If we continue on this path, companies might even over-perform educational institutions on the delivery of skill-acquisitions. What if pioneering institutions in the reinvented classroom partner up with companies to offer certifications and skills-based programs to better fit the peculiar needs and wants of the job market? Such a move would render these Higher Ed institutions more attractive to businesses and subsequently increase enrollment numbers as students would prefer to secure their hiring chances by developing the most adequate set of skills to deliver better results to their potential employers.
What did people think when Netflix first came out? Were we ready to stop going to Blockbuster and start watching movies online? Back then it was such a disruptive and innovative way of viewing content, whereas now it became part of our lives. Look at our impatient selves now, barely going to the movies nor watching TV, and fully loving the Netflix experience. Now it’s the time for education to change! For many, online learning seems only a temporary approach to education, few aren’t willing to acknowledge that it would be the new normal, but a vast majority of schools are already committing to integrate online learning in their current curriculums even after the current crisis is over. Some universities have even gone beyond in changing their status quo and decided to operate fully online until the start of the 2021 academic year, regardless of the trend of the pandemic. In both cases, the key would be to maintain engagement levels as high as possible to avoid drop-outs on the one hand and to encourage newcomers on the other hand. Nano-learning could be a great conductor for cross-curriculum gamification to provide students with bite-sized education, which can be compared to the constant yet brief access of younger generations to their smartphones, accompanied by experience on the field.
Would it be a utopia to think about a new form of education on-the-go where students are free to select some courses at a given university for a specific time frame, then do the same with a different school in the country of their choice and follow classes from the place that they consider the most convenient for their context? By combining different modules from different institutions we break up with the model of the paper diploma that gets dusty in their parents’ office, and we transition to an academic journey built around curriculum elements and/or skills that would fit future employers’ needs. Think about how this could also generate new professions where educational coaches come into play to mix and match a tailor-made learning journey for each of the students they counsel. This would be the basis of a new type of education where guided freedom and personal branding are core values. Pricing strategies should also be rethought as people would no longer expect to pay the same amount for a totally different experience than in previous years: maybe a larger portion of students will choose private education and maybe those people who didn’t think about getting a degree now want to obtain a skills-based preparation to have access to better jobs. Spotify, Netflix, Amazon and many others have integrated subscription models in our daily lives. Why not applying this same concept for education to encourage student learning and workforce relearning within a life-long learning membership?
The triptych school<>student<>company ought to be rethought. Now it’s time to enable students to freely customize their experience by empowering them in bridging the student-market gap, sponsoring a more straightforward education where they learn what is useful for them and their future. At geNEOus (formerly NEO Academy) we believe that it is essential to refresh Higher Education institutions’ mission by making innovation, personalization and skill-readiness the core of their new manifesto. Our aim is to accompany education institutions to embrace this new normal wave and reshape the future of education at the intersection of their academics, marketing and student recruitment departments. Education must never be seen as a static good, nor as a transaction but as a life-changing opportunity.