In classrooms and lecture halls, education has been evolving since the introduction of computers into the classroom. The digitalization of learning, however, has been a fairly slow transition. Despite new technologies in the classroom, how educators teach and how students learn has largely remained untouched. Like many industries, Education underwent major shifts due to the pandemic. These changes were already underway, but the realities of distance learning forced overnight changes that would have otherwise taken decades to take off.
The Covid-19 pandemic also put a spotlight on the areas of Education that have been broken for many years and forced educators around the world to confront them. In an interview with CNN, New York University Professor Scott Galloway claimed higher education tuition rates have increased by 1400% in the past 40 years and there is no other product in the world, even Hermes or Ferrari, that can achieve the extraordinary profit margins for a product that hasn’t changed that much in the past 5 decades. At these astronomical prices, one would expect the education sector to have vastly improved but compared to other industries, it has been very much in the dark ages. Almost every industry has thoroughly embraced technology and the benefits it can offer to both the consumer and the industry itself, however, schools and universities have stuck to traditional and outdated methods for years. As a result of this, students are looking for cheaper, safer, and more effective alternatives to highly-priced and packed-together lecture halls.
This strive for an alternative source of education is leading more and more students into online environments. The EdTech sector is responding to this rise in demand, with increased opportunities for students to access the information, guidance, and education they need in the comfort of their own homes. In a recent interview, Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, emphasized the need for change and innovation; “Can we support teachers, can we support families with tools so they can do something hybrid…hybrid means they’re able to use a tool…(so) student’s can work at their own time and pace.” There are many more trailblazing companies that are leading the way in facilitating remote learning, enabling students to get help in an endless range of subjects, at their own convenience.
Educators simply cannot spend the appropriate amount of time needed to really get to grips with a subject with their students, especially in a one-on-one environment. In years gone by, if students didn’t want to spend countless sleepless nights in the library, traditional tutoring was the answer to this problem. However, rapidly rising costs, limited hours, and the proximity issue that has come to the fore over the past several month’s highlights just how much the tutoring space needed to evolve. This is where platforms like Studypool come in. Studypool offers students tools and opportunities that were simply unavailable to them before. The platform enables students to have access to online tutors, including specialists in over 250 subjects, at the tip of their fingers 24/7. Tutors chat with students via text messages and students pay for the tutoring service on a per-question basis, a model that is much more convenient and affordable for students. Studypool also has a database of user-generated study content—class notes and study guides— that students can search through and download. Other platforms are offering “tutoring” style help without a tutor. Google’s Socratic helps students scan the web and its database for step-by-step solutions and other learning resources. Students simply have to take a photo of what they need help with.
We must also acknowledge that we are living in a rapidly evolving world, with new industries and viable career paths appearing almost every day, with more and more companies turning to technology and an increasingly online way of conducting business. This innovation will create a great number of jobs, in areas that don’t even exist at the moment, but the question is; will current teaching methods, and indeed traditional subjects, provide students with the education they need in order to excel in these new fields? Google, without a doubt one of the most recognizable companies on the planet, and one that is at the forefront of technological innovation, recognizes the need for change; “There’s a growing awareness among educators and families that today’s curriculum needs to evolve to meet tomorrow’s reality.” It’s understandable that traditional teaching methods along with schools and universities will take time to catch up to this and begin implementing the needed changes, which is where companies such as Khan Academy, Studypool, and Socratic are expertly placed for students to get a head start. Students can work with on-demand tutoring (or tutoring-like resources) to advance their learning in fields such as programming, Photoshop, SEO writing, cryptography, Autocad, and more.
University students have to also think of their own future. With the cost of a traditional college experience increasing, there is a greater tradeoff being made by students choosing to stick with traditional learning. According to credit.com, the average student loan debt per person currently stands at $31,172 with the time needed to pay off these debts ranging from 10-30 years. That is an awful burden for the average student to take on, with no guarantee of a stable career afterward. The archetypal experience of a liberal arts degree, with multiple elective classes, maybe a wonderful choice, and in a perfect world something that everyone can experience, but the question remains, is it worth it? A cheaper, more focused, and therefore shorter course in a technologically relevant field would surely appeal to students that have grown up using and utilizing the very technology that is creating jobs and viable career pathways.
Higher education has also followed the same format for decades, with classes delivered in large lecture halls and busy seminar groups. While this works for some people, traditional learning styles simply don’t work for others. Education needs to evolve and embrace different pedagogical techniques, something that Studypool prides itself on, and is leading the industry in. Customized, individualized learning is something that lectures just can’t compete with and allows students to really excel and explore their potential. Indeed, by successfully focusing on specific problem areas, students have more time to learn other subjects or simply enjoy their precious free time more. A more remote learning style, on a student’s own schedule, also opens the door to countless opportunities – instead of turning up at the same outdated venue at 9 am every Monday, all a student learning through Studypool needs to do is open their laptop. This can be done from anywhere; perhaps at home, enabling students to save thousands of dollars on accommodation fees, or from a part of the country or indeed the world that they have always wanted to go to.
Education is changing before our very eyes. Deep-rooted industry problems have been exacerbated by the recent pandemic and there looks to be a generational shift in how students are educated. Customized, convenient, bespoke experiences in which the student is put first will be how people learn moving forward.