c 5 ways to speed up the digitization of education
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EdtechXGlobal founder: resetting the global economy with digital education

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Amio Cajander

There’s no denying that digital education is set to be extremely transformative, it’s slow adoption however is squandering the potential benefit for the world.

The gradual digitization of education must be viewed as a long rising tide that has the capacity to be an ‘education super dividend’ improving economies worldwide.

Yet, despite a digital paradigm shift, the adoption of these technologies remain slower than seen in other industries. Rethinking ‘digital education as a service’ can accelerate the integration of innovative education technologies and better prepare society for 21st century employment.

The 5 global trends described below illustrate how accelerating the digitization of education has the potential to be the reset button for the world.

Insight 1: The Long Rising Tide

There has been considerable discussion about the impending EdTech avalanche, but we believe that it is instead a long rising tide. Despite the education market only recently starting to go digital, it is already 3x the size of the media industry. Compared to the 35% digitization of the entertainment and content industries, it is projected that only 5% of the education market is currently digital.

And yet, the digitization of education is undoubtedly going to be even slower; we estimate up to 5x slower than the rate of digitization in the media industry. This time-consuming digital integration can be further accredited to a range of key stakeholders including: education institutions, schools, government, bodies, teachers and parents. Adopting education technology innovations is undeniably worth the wait, but there is a clear need for patience.

Insight 2: The Education Super Dividend

The economic imperative of education can be seen within empirical research highlighting the clear link between GDP per capita and education standards in OECD countries. PISA scores further illustrate this through research that demonstrates a remarkable result; a 25 point increase in a country’s PISA score leads to the equivalent of a $100,000 return for each of its citizens.

Achieving a 25 point increase is possible; it is comparable to France or the UK raising its educational standards to the level of Finland. We anticipate that countries, who take initiative to address this increase by investing in effective digital education solutions, are likely to have a significant payback as a result.

Insight 3: The Digital Paradigm Shift

Digital disruption is not a new thing, as its winds have certainly passed through many sectors already. Learning from the music industry, where digital music sales now have surpassed physical sales, we notice a noteworthy business model developing in the form of music as a service. In particular, streaming music is rapidly growing, while digital downloads are steadily decreasing.

The concept of music as a service has increasingly replaced the existing consumer paradigm of a music being a ‘need to own’ product; now seeking an alternate music service that can easily be available in the format, and at a time, that is most convenient for them.

There are key learnings for the digitization of education seen through this music analogy, specifically in the concept of ‘digital education as a service’. It may seem trite, but the method is significant. For digital education to be ubiquitous, we must disregard the notion that we simply digitise our prevailing products and solutions. We need to rethink digital education as being a service; similarly as to how a school offers a service, not a product.

This evolution is already readily apparent in the world of MOOCs, which started life as digital content engines with massive distribution to worldwide audiences. However, MOOCs are now beginning to evolve into a service approach, with the service becoming ever more refined. A viable business model is associated with this sophistication, so if we consider Coursera, a leading MOOC, we can see notable revenue growths accredited to the certification of course completion.

Insight 4: But Will the Future Need Us?

Despite beginning to alter the way we train and learn, are we developing the skills that the 21st century workplace will need? From the technology advances found IBM’s Watson programme to Google’s driverless car, we must think wisely about where humans fit in.

The jobs of today are not the jobs of tomorrow. In this changing marketplace, it is imperative that the purpose of education and training must evolve to offer individuals the capacity to learn new skills easily, not merely when we are young, but at all stages of our working lives.

Insight 5: Change in world economic order

In 2013, the IMF announced that emerging markets had for the first time, attained a higher level of GDP than the world’s developed economies, when measured in terms of purchasing power. Estimations from the IMF World Economic Outlook illustrate this on-going trend by showing that over 60% of the world’s GDP is predicted to be found within emerging markets by 2020. If you juxtapose these GDP trends with the evolving digital and social dynamics, there is an uncontrollable undercurrent.

By 2017, the world’s emerging markets will be developing more digital infrastructure than the advanced economies. More than 90% of world’s population under 30 will be in emerging markets with an evident aspiration to “learn to earn”. If you had to predict which region is poised to respond to a changing globe, where freely accessible digital resources can provide the skills and training to adapt, the ‘startup-nations’ of the world would be the best guess.

As such, Digital Education is the Reset Button for the World.