Education

The Complex Interaction of Startups and Education

  • May 24, 2017
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Different demographic groups usually have different ideas about the nature of education. High school students tend to see this as an obligation imposed on them by both their parents and society. Parents view it as a first step towards the future success of their child. Educational system itself observes it as both their duty and obligation.

However, as of late there has been another player in this great game. A number of people saw the present-day educational system as a lucrative business opportunity and found a way to act upon this idea. By adding some value to all three of the above-mentioned parties, they stand to profit quite a bit. Here are few interesting insights on the complex interaction between startups and education.

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  1. Student-teacher communication
    The first and the most obvious benefit that some startups brought to the world of education is facilitated communication between teachers and students. When you look at this idea from the outside, it is more than clear that it stems from the way most students are using platforms such as Facebook. Student groups enabled people attending same classes to coordinate, share notes and put some questions out there for a public discussion.
    On the other hand, some startups such as Piazza only took this idea one step further. Instead of Facebook, where these messages often get disrupted by a plethora of other content (completely irrelevant to the topic in question), Piazza made a platform with this task as its main feature. This allowed both students and teachers to communicate in a safe and well-organized digital environment. Another advantage of this method over traditional networks lies in the fact that it has a simple rating system that gives the best (rated) answers optimal visibility.
    In the end, it is worth mentioning that this platform alone has over a million students worldwide. Considering how they are not the only such startup out there, this incredibly high number of users speaks volumes about the hyper-connectivity amongst the international academic community.
  2. Education tracking
    Even though different segments of one’s education are supposed to be looked at independently, this usually doesn’t end up being the case. In order to get enrolled in a college of your choice, there is a clear educational track you need to follow. While some dispute that this system is unjust, elitist or even discriminative, it has some more than obvious advantages. Most prominently, it allows each student to learn at their own pace. This is especially noticeable when it comes to the high-ability students.
    Still, this can often leave one completely clueless on how to proceed with their education. The choice of subjects, classes and curriculum matters much more than you can assume, which is just something you need to think of in time. Then, you need to think about your academic achievements, while some schools tend to strongly insist on extracurricular activities.
    Luckily, in the early 21st century, there are startups that can help one with their education tracking. Also, there are companies which specialize in getting one in the college of their choice through providing all kinds of consultations and services, such as preparing students for Ivy League colleges or providing UMAT tutoring for those hoping to study in Australia.
  3. Study material
    The greatest advantage of being a student in the 21st century lies in the easy access to the needed study material. Sure, educational institutions may frown upon the use of Wikipedia as a source of a seminary paper, but this platform alone brings a myriad of benefits to the students all over the world. This free encyclopedia helps you check a year of an event or even an entire bibliography of a famous poet in under 10 seconds of your time.
    On the other hand, if you are looking for something more specific and reliable you could check out a startup such as Course Hero. This giant of the industry is a multi-million-dollar corporation that provides students with study guides, flash cards, tutoring notes, class notes and even examples of past exams. You see, a lot of students, teachers and parents complain that modern education is not about acquiring knowledge, but about passing tests with good grades. Those looking for the first have more than few traditional means to get it, but those concerned with the latter are much safer with Course Hero on their retainer.
  4. The (un)college experience
    Another thing that people need to have in mind when speaking about the traditional education is the fact that it is more than a record sheet and a certificate you get at the end. In fact, some high school kids can’t wait for college to start, for all those things that aren’t necessarily related to education. We are of course talking about things like community, living in a dorm and student parties. On the other hand, you are probably familiar with the notion of gap-year, where young people derail from their educational track for a year in order to see what else life has in store for them.
    You see, high-end university costs an arm and a leg, which definitely makes the aforementioned experiences into an unnecessary luxury. Needless to say, both of these practices can today be offered even without being forced to actually go to a college, most notably through The UnCollege Movement. In a way, the main goal of this startup is to teach you how to become more self-directed. Through a work with a dedicated coach and a professional mentor, you will learn new skills and find your own way towards achieving your long-term goals. Aside from this, you will get to see the social aspect of a college life for only a fraction of its cost.

Conclusion
Just from the aforementioned four examples, it becomes more than clear that there is literally no field of education left unattended by the world of modern business. To a student or a parent, this means that should you require any assistance, you could get it at an affordable price. For the educational system as a whole, this means that there is now a new party in the play, one that can no longer be ignored.

Nonetheless, seeing how most of these businesses work for everyone’s benefit, they might find a way to get involved in the future evolution of education. Because of this, it might be worth one’s while to take a closer look at the collaboration between high-end universities and these educational startups in years to come.

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