3 Ideas To Future-Proof Your Education Startup

The world of work and the world’s education systems are undergoing tremendous change. With the work world leading both and evolving quickly, some education systems are getting left behind.

Where are current systems lagging most? What are even the best systems finding problematic? What are the challenges?

The Yidan Prize Foundation commissioned the Economist Intelligence Unit to study 35 economies across the globe focussing on skills for the future.

These skills contains such interdisciplinary skills as: creative and analytical skills, entrepreneurial skills, leadership skills, digital and technical skills, global awareness and civic education.

It also measured other system inputs such as education policy, the teaching environment and the socio-economic backdrop of each area.

Where are the opportunities? Let’s find out.

1. Tech to Facilitate and Assess Project-based, Collaborative and Peer-to-peer Learning

The study showed that many systems are trying and failing to grapple with much needed educational techniques such as project-based learning, where students tackle a subject in great depth.

This approach usually involves tackling a real-world problem of the students’ own choosing and producing a real-world solution.

These deep digs can be challenging for teachers trained in traditional methods and can be difficult to assess as assignments don’t fit a structure they’re used to.

David Deming of Harvard University says that classrooms need to be “more project-based, interactive, with more peer-to-peer learning, group work and portfolio assessments”.

Some places such as Argentina, Canada, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain and Taiwan offer a robust focus on project-based learning but only Finland and France also provide strong assessment frameworks to test such learning.

Software solutions that can train teachers in these approaches, make them easier to use in the classroom and streamline their assessment for teachers, students, administrators and parents is going to be needed in the present and near future.

2. Gamifying the Curriculum

One recent standout in this field made the news in Canada this year when Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta teacher Scott Hebert was awarded the Gamification in Education Award by Spain-based organization Gamification World.

With backing from his initially skeptical principal, Hebert transformed the province’s Grade 8 science curriculum into a role-playing game called The Fight for Scientia Terra (“Science Land” in Latin).

Players assumed a role in a fantasy world, had battles to demonstrate their knowledge and gained experience points instead of grades.

“The cool part about a game is if you’re trying to get something and jump off a cliff and you die in the game, you get a chance to restart,” Hebert said. “And kids don’t feel that exists in education.”

Knowing that Hebert’s project won against Classcraft, which is used in more than 600 classrooms worldwide. It’s clear that this is an area that small startups can take on and win with the right expertise and approach. It can be iterated in lessons or units before taking on a multi-year subject curriculum.

Education systems around the world will be making use of more of these approaches in the future and these are video games parents across the globe won’t be complaining about.

3. Building Collaborative Bridges Between School and Society

Schools increasingly need ways to reach beyond their walls to collaborate easily with other schools, higher education institutions, businesses, the community and society at large.

Excellent teachers provide the most important bridge between the classroom and the outside world and they need great tools to help them.

There are opportunities here for startups that enable teachers and schools to easily connect with each other and with members of the business world and community.

This Business World Helps To Elevate Teacher Status

This also helps to elevate the status of teachers in societies where this is needed and solidifies them as leaders and change-makers in the community.

Canada and Japan both score highly in this area as do Finland, New Zealand, Switzerland, South Korea, the United States and the Philippines. Some markets with gaps in this sector include South Africa, Taiwan, Chile, the UK, Germany and Singapore.

These are only three ideas gleaned from the research but there are certainly more for anyone willing to delve further into the EIU’s Worldwide Educating for the Future Index, commissioned by the Yidan Prize Foundation.

The Yidan Prize Foundation seeks to make the world a better place through education and build a community of like-minded educators, policy-makers and innovators working toward this aim. It supports initiatives such as research, the Yidan Prize and the Yidan Prize Summit.

The Yidan Prize is the world’s biggest education prize awarding HK$30 million to each of two laureates in Education Research and Education Development.

The Yidan Prize Foundation will hold their inaugural summit in Hong Kong on December 11th. To find out more, and meet fellow EdTech and startup entrepreneurs from around the world, join us at the Yidan Prize Summit. Find out more here.

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