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Extolling the Controversial in Online Education 


Extolling the Controversial in Online Education 

If education is on your mind or part of your business, this article from Yuri Narciss may stimulate conversation on common points of controversy.

I have worked in the education sector for the last three years as a member of the Global Executive Team of Study Group in charge of marketing and sales. Joining from Google my background and perspective is very different from the majority of professionals in the sector. With all the hype around Online learning and $3.1B investment flowing into EdTech last year  I want to share my view, which differs substantially from what you read Online:


As usual this article ended up longer than planned. I am sharing only the summary here, you can read the full version on Medium.

1. The Education Model is not broken and does not need to be reinvented

By defining what exactly ‘the traditional model’ means we see many relevant components that Online formats currently haven’t covered. Especially the fact that students spend time together with likeminded peers in an supportive environment is missing. MOOCs with their low retention haven’t broadened access to Higher Ed, but in their current format only work for those students, who easily qualify for a regular university. Existing examples of great schools and universities show the potential of the model if well executed. The problem is that many institutions are held back by resources, governance and lack of leadership. MOOCs have so far failed because they focus on disrupting a working model, rather than improving it.

2. Use new technology to deliver content, make teachers more productive, and engage students.

Interactive and rich media allow to present learning content in a personalised and interactive way. New technologies such as gamification and VR can enable students to consume even more content by themselves, freeing up class time for personal interactions. Teachers can use business and consumer tools to be more productive, enhance communication and engage students as well as their parents and peers. Rather than looking for bespoke (but frequently inferior) education applications, schools and universities should prioritise using standard productivity and social media tools as used by consumers and businesses.

3. Get the stigma off for-profit education and embrace commercial practices.

Education institutions are businesses, whether they like it or not, which provide a service to their customers, the students, for a fee. I am arguing that the governance model of a for-profit corporation is typically so much more effective that they can deliver a better learning experience and achieve a return on their – much welcomed – capital. A comparison with the healthcare sector shows some of the flaws in the thinking of the opponents of privatisation.

Key points include:

  • Interactive technologies

  • Standardized testing

  • Dual system education

Access the link to the full article, 6 theses on education that you probably disagree with, on LinkedIn.