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December 20, 2012

Shaping Our Students for a Better 2013: What Needs to Change in the Education Sector

By Allison Boccamazzo, TMCnet Web Editor

2012 has seen an incredible transformation in the classroom, where bring your own device (BYOD) policies have been officiated into handbooks and educators are interacting with their students via iPads. Just this month, the Pew (News - Alert) Internet and American Life Project revealed the stunning results from a survey of students and teachers alike, where 94 percent of teachers said their students are very likely to use Google (News - Alert) to conduct research, 75 percent for Wikipedia, and that 12 percent are very likely to rely on any type of printed book when doing any kind of school research (R.I.P. Encyclopedia).

But as the education space becomes more technologically advanced, some changes inevitably need to take place. This is where Andrew Grauer, CEO of online education platform Course Hero, comes into play, who recently sat down to discuss some hot trends he thinks will impact and change the education industry in 2013.

So what can we learn as we ring in the New Year?

The continued evolution of the knowledge marketplace

 “In the past year, we’ve seen platforms such as Uber for car service and AirBnB for hosting guests open up opportunities for independent contractors to offer their services without having to build out an infrastructure for their own business,” Grauer explains. “In 2013, this model of collaborative consumption will extend to education with opportunities for educators and tutors to offer their services through new distribution models.”

The future of credentialing

The debate over online class and in-class equality has been a long and complicated one; for example, the undergrad who spent an entire semester taking online courses because he or she was interning full time. As internships and other stipulations drive students to push themselves to the max, it seems online courses will only further grow in popularity. Grauer sees this momentum continuing as we welcome 2013, but it will call for a noticeable change due to the context of such classes.

“We’ve noticed that many of the most popular classes online are to help students gain tangible skills (such as learning to code or how to write a business plan) that don’t necessarily require traditional credentialing. Many companies will play with different ways to address this – be it through badges, certification levels or other reward systems.”

Teaching the skills of tomorrow

“We’ve seen several reports, such as the recently released report from McKinsey, showing a significant gap between the skills students are graduating college with and the skills required by today’s work world,” Grauer explains. The McKinsey report he refers to was released last week, highlighting a mismatch between education and employment and ultimately finding a serious disconnect between the attitudes of youths, employers and education providers. Even worse, the survey reveals that less than half of all youth and employers are not confident that new grads are “adequately prepared for entry-level positions.”

“The longer curriculum isn’t matching up, the more off balance the system and you’ll see more people look outside the mainstream into alternative options to acquire the necessary skills,” Grauer says. “This presents opportunity both for traditional educators to realign their material and for newcomers to explore different ways to approach the issue.”

The movement for standardization

Grauer notes that in the past, developers had to build separate applications and developments for each individual university or environment, but today, the industry is pushing hard for increased standardization of student information systems (SIS) across institutions. This, he says, will open up opportunities to share data between applications and organizations.

A bottoms-up sales approach for education technology

“Instead of vendors making large sales to a CIO of a university, we’re seeing ed-tech spread more organically with students,” Grauer says. For example, teachers are bringing in “freemium” services such as Edmodo and Quizlet. “Once premium features are required and universities understand the value, you see the technology move up the chain,” Grauer concludes.

What do you expect to see in the education industry next year?

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

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