MOOCs: Expanding Education for the Lifelong Learner
Massive Open Online Courses (“MOOCs”) have come a long way since they were first developed six years ago. What once began as free online courses provided by just a handful of universities has now developed into an impressive 9,400 courses with participation from more than 800 universities. MOOCs were created with the goal to increase access to higher education globally. However, as the popularity of the programs grew, educators began to worry that MOOCs’ online approach and (initially) free courses would shake up traditional teaching pedagogies and disrupt the post-secondary education system.
Nothing Artificial About the Future of Student Intelligence
The world now boasts robo-advisors who pick stocks for investment portfolios and GPS apps that give drivers traffic forecasts for their morning commutes; Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) already impacts lives on a daily basis. Historically, education has been slow to adopt new technology, but it is unable to escape the far reach of AI. While still nascent in the world of education, AI presents tangible opportunities to better the way students learn.
What Makes a Successful EdTech Company?
Over the last decade, MHT has met with numerous education technology (“edtech”) companies that are all tackling similar pain points. As education investment bankers, we are asked repeatedly by investors and entrepreneurs what attributes make a company successful. There is no singular characteristic. In fact, the most successful companies typically have several. While we can’t cover all of them in one article, below are some of the more important ones:
Who’s Driving STEM Education?
As a long-time global leader in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), American scientists and innovators have accomplished many extraordinary and once unimaginable feats. From Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb to Neil Armstrong’s famous first moonwalk, there is no shortage of contributions that America has made to the scientific community over the last two centuries. In recent years, however, America has begun to fall behind other developed countries in STEM fields.
Growing Popularity of the Gap Year
It is no secret that students aspire to a college degree due to the broader employment opportunities and increased lifelong wages that come from it. However, not all millennials view going to college with the same urgency as in the past. As an education-focused investment bank, we are seeing an emerging trend among students to take a break (typically one year) from academics to pursue other interests.
Teaching Teachers – State of Professional Development
Did you know an overwhelming majority of teachers believe professional development is ineffective in its current form? Studies show teachers consider professional development programs to be largely irrelevant and out of touch with the core focus of their work, which is to educate students. Teacher feedback suggests that programs are slow to adapt to the ever-changing nature of their profession, particularly when it comes to incorporating modern technology and learning tools in the classroom. Historically, teachers have been given little ability to personalize their professional development learning plan, which has ultimately resulted in many viewing professional development as nothing more than a compliance exercise.
A Classroom Without Walls
Imagine if you could learn about a solar eclipse by experiencing it from outer space. Today, this is becoming a reality for some students, or at least a virtual reality.
Augmented Reality (“AR”), Virtual Reality (“VR”) and Mixed Reality (“MR”) (collectively known as “xR”) technologies are being leveraged to create out-of-this-world, or even out-of-this-time experiences in numerous settings, including the classroom. As an education investment bank, we are consistently asked by investors to help them understand the different technologies at play. AR is an emerging technology that uses a smart device’s camera to overlay digital aspects onto the real world (think Pokémon GO). VR creates an immersive, new digital environment, typically by using a wearable headset. MR is a combination of AR and VR that involves overlaying holographic images onto the real world using a headset or glasses. While xR has been around for decades, its applications in the classroom are just beginning to turn heads.
A Cost-Effective Route to Employment
Is a bachelor degree worth the cost? The rising cost of higher education in connection with increasing student debt levels continues to garner both public and political attention. There is greater scrutiny of traditional colleges and universities as well as growing pressure to demonstrate their value proposition to students. As the post-secondary market continues to face headwinds, new tuition models in education have evolved, are gaining momentum and producing exceptional results.
How Flipped Classrooms are Challenging Traditional Learning Environments
Technology has always been a driving factor in revolutionizing the learning experience. The printing press allowed for the mass production of books, the abacus can arguably be considered the first calculation device, and where would we be today without the calculator?
While classrooms have certainly come a long way since one-room school houses, the traditional instruction model has remained the same for over a century – teachers lecture in class, and students complete their homework outside of class. However, with the increased availability and use of technology, educators are beginning to defy the traditional classroom model.
Corporations Stepping Into the Education Void
More and more, MHT Partners’ education investment banking team notices corporations increasing internal training capabilities for existing employees and accepting alternative credentials vs. traditional college degrees when hiring new employees, citing the slow pace of change within the U.S. education system, most notably higher education. Not only is slow change an issue among U.S. higher education, but the number of students and graduates is decreasing. Since 2011, the number of students enrolled in higher education has declined by 2.6 million.