The Rise of EdTech; Eliminating Borders for International Students
Education is not a privilege. It is a right. One of the most important challenges of higher education for students is “access”. And things are about to be revolutionized forever.
The pandemic caused massive economic downtime without any doubt. However, this was the time for EdTech to rise from the ashes of the economic shutdowns.
We all knew that the future of education was online.
Nobody had any doubts about it.
However, nobody could predict that the year will be 2020!
Things changed very fast.
Pretty much all universities and education centers had no other choice rather than shifting to online classes.
From what I personally heard, one of the biggest universities in Sydney, they started to approve transformation projects in days rather than months!
This was unheard of.
Now that it has been about 2 years into the pandemic, things have changed for good forever.
Universities are now offering pretty much all the courses and exams online.
Not only that, all the admin background operations are now online too.
However, now universities are thinking about the economy of scale.
In the old days, students had to physically move to the destination country so that they can study.
Now, nobody has to do that!
This means that universities, they can think about bigger markets, bigger classes, and bigger money on the table.
In my personal opinion, physically moving to a destination country to continue higher education studies will be a great goal, especially for international students. Mostly because of immigration processes.
However, for educational purposes, this is not going to be a mandatory term.
International students can now study from anywhere in the world in any university they want (or can afford) to study what they feel they want.
Access is going to be a problem for the past thanks to the rise of EdTech startups.
In the new world order, an international students can study the first year of business school in Argentina, the second year in Egypt, the third year in Australia, and the last year in Canada.
Plus, they do not have to study specific courses that the university mandate.
They can study law in the first year, art in the second year, finance in the third year and marketing in the last year.
You can quickly see that the opportunities are endless.
However, we have a long way to go.
One of the key pillars of education is without any doubt, the content.
There are heaps of educational content is been produced and there are lots of marketplaces out there that are constantly producing content.
Coursera, Udemy, Pluralsight, Khan Academy, Edx and indeed universities are hugely contributing to creating content or empowering content creators to create the content that can be offered to students.
This can be only improved as time goes by and at some stage there will be content aggregators that will aggregate all these contents from different marketplaces and bring all the human knowledge available to international students.
Also, these will be all part of the curriculum for universities in a way that students will be evaluated based on the projects that they deliver, not just the theory. I will cover this section under evaluation.
My personal prediction is that also, university professors can become content creators as well and they can upload their courses and content to these content aggregators and can monetize their courses too.
This means that a professor at Yale can create a course on let’s say China Economy and then price it as he see how it fit, and then monetize his knowledge and course.
In addition, students that go through the course can communicate and network with each other, communicate and ask questions from the professor, rate the course, leave review and feedback and gain top quality knowledge from the best in the world.
This way, students have “access” to the top professors in the world and can go through the courses of top universities such as Yale, Harvard, Oxford etc. and by delivering a project, mark the course as pass in any university that they are studying.
I created a landing page and wanted to see if this is a viable market for international students. Surprisingly, I got 29 registered emails on my landing page from students that need student loans.
International study is expensive. Especially in the first world countries such as USA, Canada, UK, Germany and Australia, it will be a big challenge for international students to be able to afford the tuition fees and also the cost of living in these countries.
Given the fact that many of the international students are coming from countries with weak money compare to USD, this problem become more serious and actually limit the number of students that can afford to study in these countries.
Living in first world countries is pretty challenging for professionals with high salaries, let alone an international student, coming from a 3rd world country that wants to study MBA at Oxford university. This is simply cost around $150k in two years.
The solution will be enabling international students with bite sized unsecured loans to help them get pass this challenging time.
I personally believe that there will be next generation of Fintech startups that buy loans and funds from other financial institutes and sell them to international students with a reasonable interest rate to unlock access.
I have exams! :)
As a former college student, I think I share the same feeling toward traditional exams!
They are not really a good and effective evaluation method.
Imagine you have studies for the whole semester and already have a strong grasp of what is this topic about, and then for some reasons, you cannot make it to the exam.
You simply fail.
My personal take on evaluations is that this needs to be turned into short term (1 to 2 weeks) and long term (1 to 3 months) projects.
There should be a standardized project template for each subject, in a way that if you are study in any university in any country, by passing and delivering these projects, you pass or fail.
There can be a syndicate of professors at each university or across multiple universities that can evaluate projects and give their opinions and mark them.
There also can be a database of these projects over time as they are evolving so that students can track the progress and evolution of each subject.
Settling down in the destination
Migrating to another country is hard!
Trust me, I know!
Settling down in a whole new environment with another language and values and traditions, is not an easy task.
Especially if you have a family with you and you want to become successful in your education as well.
Imagine if there are communities and companies that are there to help international students settling down.
This can be simply, language classes, cultural courses, etiquettes in interacting with people, public transport, schools for children, basic knowledge of different suburbs, introduction to religion and social groups etc.
All these things look very simple, however, it may take around 6 months for somebody to figure these things out.
These focused groups can help international students to get up to speed very fast and also connect to the new society very fast, and making the immigration process more smooth.
Post graduation job finding
Universities now are doing relatively well when it comes to unlock career opportunities for students.
There is always room for improvement.
Startups can be more active in this space. Running hackathons, pitch nights, career exhibitions, sponsored application and business competitions can help international students to find the job that they love faster.
Peer to peer learning
Here is how the industry is evolving.
There will be a point in time when everybody can monetize what they know and sell their knowledge, even at university level.
Let’s face it. If I want to learn digital marketing in university, I want to learn this skill from the best in the world.
I cannot believe that somebody who has limited experience in digital marketing teach this subject to international students.
I want to see top performers have courses that are available in all universities and students can use these top industry level courses and apply them to their evaluation projects.
If there is a talent some where in Japan that is the best when it comes to animation design, they should have the right to monetize their knowledge at university level and students have the right to have access to this knowledge so that they can have a higher quality education.
Students should not be limited to the geography or the university that they are studying at. Students should be able to choose which country , which city and which university study, they should be able to choose where to pass their year 1, year 2, year 3 or year 4, post grad, Phd, post doctorate and which professor they want to have this course with.
This is an exciting times to be an student and I see a bright future when it comes to EdTech.
Hope you enjoy reading this blog.
Feel free to reach out with your thoughts and feedback.