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3 Trends in education technology, online learning, and the expediting of the curve.

Oct 28, 2020 8:40:12 AM

“We are a Tech Company that sells shoes”

-Tony Hsieh

Tony Hsieh famously described Zappos, the online shoe selling company, as a tech company that sells shoes. 


This was a monumental statement at the time because it forced us all of us non Silicon Valley people to realize there was a new paradigm in business. Companies that were to thrive did NOT just do their business and then add gadgets and gizmos, like tech, later or as a supplement to their offering. Companies that were to thrive would put technology at the CORE of it’s approach to business. 


Using this well known anecdote, how would education stack up? Are colleges tech companies that sell education? At Smashing Boxes, we see trends and themes in the way technology is being adopted, created, and leveraged to disrupt industries and break boundaries. Here are trends we are seeing. 


From our first person research and interview with industry leader Momentum Learning and their CEO, Jessica Mitsch, we have learned that: 

  1. Virtual is here to stay in some form or fashion

  2. Human Centered Design is the key to rethinking the student experience. 

  3. College Degrees are potentially no longer required. 

To further define the challenge at hand, in reviewing recent posts from  CB Insights, and The World Bank, several stunning facts emerged: 

  • Over 1.8 BILLION learners were impacted by COVID 19. 

  • Lack of infrastructure and preparedness has made it hard for the, wait for it, $6.8 TRILLION dollar global education industry to adjust. 

  • This could be due to the fact that out of the $1.6T spent in the US on education each year, less than 5% was spent on edtech. 


As far as what the future may hold both domestically as well as globally, several themes were consistent. When thinking about tech, the usual suspects appeared, which are: 

  • IOT and smart devices can improve campus experiences.

  • AR/VR can improve engagement.

  • Gamification can provide built in psychological challenges to students.

However, the biggest theme by far was just as much of a business model innovation as a technical innovation. Online education, the need for widely distributed access and a move towards Massively Open Online Courses, or MOOC’s, would be critical for the wide array of learners across the globe. It is interesting that the research states that MOOC’s have seen a renewed interest...key word being renewed. The current education business model would seem to widely discourage what is best for the global population, which is unfortunate.  Going forward, will institutions become content contributors in the future versus walled off silos? Only time will tell. 


Seeing this all in action

Additional Resources for Educators or Innovators in the education space that are free: 

  • Service Design e-book- think about human centered design and follow along in our guided workflow to create the education experience of the future for your organization. 

  • IOMT ebook- thinking about how devices might impact and improve your organization? Start your research here. 


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Topics: startups

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