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Innovations in Education

13 December 2010 #Education

The education sector is rife for innovation, from innovative new models to the integration of technologies.  It is also the sector that can do the most to instil innovation in tomorrow`s leaders.  This though, will require reshaping of the curriculum to more open learning and less test-based assessments whilst rethinking and re-inventing the role of technology in education. 

So big is the opportunity to innovate in the education sector that it is quickly becoming a popular investment theme.  This has been apparent for some time in other countries, where education is perhaps valued higher and so the sector is more open to innovation.  For example, in South Korea, the Megastudy concept has been around for 10 years. This ‘cramming` provider films highly rated teachers and then pupils pay to watch the videos online, with the teachers receiving a cut.  This activity promotes teachers to do better by offering them incentive to learn and adapt more, providing a platform for underperforming teachers to learn from best practice. 

In the worlds of business and finance innovative new models of educating the leaders of tomorrow are emerging.  For example, in order to reach professionals that may not have the capacity to study for a MBA it online courses are now being offered for free; with the option of paying the fees in order to sit the exam.  Thus, professionals can learn and gain experience without taking years out of work.

It is essential that informed innovation takes place through conversation with employers about the qualities that graduates should possess. UK Universities alone are worth £59 billion to the economy, highlighting that increased efficiency and greater added value can have substantial positive effects throughout the economy.  In the US, MIT launched Open Course Ware in 2002, posting its lectures online in video format, freely available.  This initiative has spread throughout the world with many leading universities following suit. Over the last few years some start-up businesses have been examining how to turn these freely available courses into a structured learning package (e.g. learn robotics from MIT, programming from Stanford, and engineering from Cambridge).  At the moment they are not able to award degrees based on these modules, but some professors are signing off individual module certificates as proof of having studied the course online. 

With businesses often complaining that graduates lack some of the skills necessary for their industry under current education systems, perhaps open learning is the future of education, where courses could be tailored for specific industries and recognised by employers, whilst simultaneously being open to those interested in continual learning.
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