#8 Why University is a Waste of Time and Money (for Most People) and How Tech/Startups Can Help (2)

The 2nd blog covering my thoughts on why university is a waste of time for most people and how I believe tech can help shape the future of the education system + startups catalysing change for good

If you haven’t already read the 1st blog in this series which covers why I believe university is a waste of time and money (for most people), then please check it out using this link and let me know your thoughts in the comments! This blog is going to cover where I believe the future lies within education and the startups that can drive change (and why they might not be able to do it…).

Edtech Shows Us The Light

Education technology shows us a better way to run the higher education system:

  1. Flexibility

  2. Customisation

  3. Value for money

  4. Innovation and pace

These are all things that education should be all about, but it is clear that it isn’t in most cases. Edtech won’t take over the education system completely, but I believe it can catalyse the change needed for good; putting pressure on the education system to make the system better suited to the people that it serves.

Universities are here to stay; they have too much power, money and are embedded in society too deeply to shift. However, they will be scared of what’s happening in edtech; as with any business (which universities ultimately are), when competition arises which threatens their revenue, you innovate or die, and edtech will spark this change.

How Will Education Change?

I believe the space with massive potential in education is developing a way for tutors/lecturers to make a connection with a group of students over the internet. One of the biggest challenges with online teaching is replicating the ability of a teacher to react to a room; it is hard to “read a room” and “scan the crowd” over a zoom call and this problem hasn’t been overcome.

Quality online education delivery doesn’t scale well, but as it develops, technology will enable lecturers to tell if the audience is engaged. This might be in the form of eye-tracking technology, which reads whether the student is taking in online content, identifying anomalies which might identify students who aren’t paying attention and/or lacking behind. Below is an excellent piece found in “Emerging Edtech” which explains this brilliantly:

“Eye tracking technology can be employed to analyse how students learn by obtaining data on where they look during (online) lessons. For instance, the amount of time it takes for a student to look at a certain section of text could indicate that the learner doesn’t understand or has difficulty absorbing what he is reading. This information can then be used to customize the educational content so that each student’s unique way of learning can be accommodated, customized and optimized.”

A startup I have found who could catalyse this area is Mobalytics, which uses eye-tracking technology to produce data-based coaching in the competitive gaming world. Using this technology in education has clear benefits, could Mobalytics be the one to transition over or will a big edtech player take this technology and use it to their advantage? And building upon this could face recognition technology be used to determine who is paying attention or even dropping off because they’ve partied too hard the night before… scary thought…

The Use Of AI

One thing I have always been fascinated about is how students gain, store and get their skills/experience across their university experience and then how this is translated to the roles they want to acquire. To me, university curriculums seem up to 5 years out of date to where they need to be; AI can be the key to unlock the connection between what skills and knowledge is required in the workplace and what university curriculums currently provide.

Imagine a dynamic curriculum that changes based upon the latest trends and requirements in the workplace, ahead of when they’re identified as the “new biggest thing to learn”. It seems so many times that universities begin to teach things based upon industry trends a couple of years after the attention turns to it, due to the slow nature of universities across the board.

The first step to achieving this is being able to identify and track where students are, and where they are trying to get. A startup that is starting to connect the dots in this space is uSkillz, a startup that allows you to Track, Target &Grow your Skills, which will enable institutions to gather data on where their students are and where the critical skill/knowledge gaps are.

I see this space moving towards a more AI-driven model, where everyone is tracked and then given what they need to get to where they want to be. A lot of people see it as a bad thing to be “told” what to do and have their experience/knowledge “tracked”, but I love the concept of having clear solutions laid out based upon the ever-changing and dynamics requirements of the future!

Startups cannot do it alone

While it’s all well and good saying how startups can be the difference in changing the education system… I’m not 100% convinced they can, and here’s why. Universities are incredibly slow but have a monopoly; which is a dangerous combination, as they’re curriculums are pretty universal and evolving slower than they need to.

In other words, you can have the best startups and ideas in the world, but if universities are too slow to uptake them before their expiry date, then the education system will forever be behind. Unfortunately, I can not see this changing for most educational institutions for a long time, because large groups (Governments, universities, councils, etc.) take too long to move.

My hope is (as explained above) that the pressure caused by startups (and eventually one day from society as people realise the fundamental flaws with university), will spark change.

Summary

Hopefully, the above has given some suggestions of where I believe the UK university system is going to develop. I don’t want to be the guy that tears down something, points down all the negative things and then doesn’t suggest solutions and work towards a better future. I am hoping throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I am able to give back to the community and improve the future for the educational system!

Disagree with me? I am open to discuss any of the above points and be proved wrong on all of them if necessary, so please leave a comment, drop me a message on LinkedIn or book in a call using my Calendly link so I can listen to your point!

Final Words

I hope my point is clear that it is the system and leadership that is broken, and university doesn’t make sense for MOST people. It is not the responsibility of an individual or group of lecturers to make things right; things have to come from the top!

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