I have a thesis that the education industry will drastically change over the next 10-20 years.
Education reform has been a topic of conversation for a long time in America. Why is the change going to happen now? What is different this time around?
- In the current education system the primary purpose of a teacher is to disseminate information. Teachers go to a central institution to learn material then they go to many different locations to repeat that same information to their students. With the advancements in technology it is now easy to send information and instruction from excellent sources to almost anywhere in the world. Society no longer needs universities to spread information.
- The end product that Universities are currently producing are not meeting the needs of the world's businesses. If you listen to the top companies in the world such as Exxon, Google, and Microsoft they are constantly talking about improving education and the trouble they face hiring talented/qualified workers.
- University's used to provide value by being gate keepers and ensuring that only high quality people graduated from their facilities. With the push for a University education for everyone the value they provide is eroding. (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, etc. are not being effected as much because they still provide a useful filter for value).
- The University value proposition is eroding. In the current system you spend a lot of money and time up front to achieve an increase in future earnings and quality of life. However as more people get degrees, the cost of education rises, and the value of that degree in the eyes of business decreases the ability to pay for education with increased future earnings is becoming more of a 60/40 probability.
- The idea of A/B testing and testing everything that pervades the leading tech companies is starting to spread into more industries. In addition to this modern technology is making it easier to collect and analyze data to determine what really works (see next point).
- The current education system is very, very inefficient. Most classes move at the pace of the slower third meaning that at any given time 2/3's of the class could be moving through the material faster. Also much of the material covered will never be used by the students or help develop any useful skills.
- Many of the skills that the current education system develops are more suited to the industrial revolution (for example memorizing information and following directions). Jobs are increasingly requiring people who can look into complex situations and self direct their work. Most schools today do not make people better at this, in fact many schools make people worse by pushing conformity and teaching there is only one correct answer.
- Based on the assumptions above employers are going to add more importance to credentials and experiences outside of a University diploma. This will further devalue a University education.
- As the value of a University education is questioned the value of primary and secondary education, whose main goal is to prepare students for college, will be questioned as well.
- And probably most importantly in our increasingly global economy students are no longer competing against the best from their country they are competing with the best from the entire world. This increased competition will push countries and schools to innovate faster and question standard educational practices.
Just a note, I do not expect most Universities to disappear in the next twenty years I just expect that they will have to drastically change because of the 10 points listed above.
I think this will be one of the most exciting and stressful decades to be in the education profession. Personally I am looking forward to it. What do you think?
I would love to hear if you agree or disagree.