Maximizing the Investment in Education Technology

Out of the top five people in our lives, where is the teacher?

GUEST COLUMN | by Jerry Huang 

credit-itutorgroupIf you ask a friend, ‘What has education done for you?’ — then you may often get answers like, ‘helped me obtain a stable job’, ‘learn a vocation’, ‘exposed me to new opportunities’, or ‘provided the joy of learning something new’. However, the truth is, depending on where you grew up and with whom you were surrounded, you probably developed a very different approach towards education and self-learning than your friend who might have lived just few blocks away.

According to a recent article in Entrepreneur Magazine, it is believed that the five people we spend the most time with are the ones who influence our life the most. Usually, these five people consist of our parents, siblings, friends, and mentors. How often are our teachers part of this equation? Today, the challenge isn’t a scarcity of good teachers or good content in the world; rather, the issue is: how do we connect learners to the right teachers, with the right content, and the right classmates, in real-time and on-demand?

Companies that focus on driving learning efficacy will be the most successful moving forward.

What if you could engage with the best teachers and knowledge experts around the world on any day, including weekends, at any time? What if teachers, content providers, and institutions serviced each individual learner – instead of watching learners on a standardized bell curve?

Current Education Landscape

The edtech ecosystem is a growing marketplace. Only recently in mid-2015, global private investment deals in learning technology companies surpassed $2.5B. This trend isn’t stopping either, as we have witnessed strong growth in Asia, Europe as well as North America. With so much money being invested into education, particularly in edtech, you may assume that higher efficacy rates should be expected. Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily the case.

Although there are many different players in the education space, not every company has this end goal in mind. This is partially why we’re not closing the education gap as fast as we could. In the education sector, you’ll find traditional schools, self-study programs (MOOCs), publishers, as well as tutor/teacher marketplace programs. Some of these solutions create and deliver content. However, how do we ensure that people finish the course, let alone learn from it?  One option is a matching service, but how does a simple rating system save time for the student, and find the right teacher and right content each and every time? How do we replace the business model where we see the learner on a bell-curve and turn it into a learning ecosystem for the individual learner based on their needs, learning behaviors and goals?

It’s time that the model changes – not just the tools and delivery methods.

At my company, our mission is to change the education model for the learner. The learner never changes for the model.

Why are we here?

The number one reason for the existence for any education technology company is to drive efficacy in learning. Efficacy is defined as a power to produce a desired result or effect. In fact, there is only one Key Performance Indicator (KPI) that we value as the most relevant: “Did the student learn?”

How do you help students learn?

The only way to be successful in driving efficacy and enhancing students’ performance is to provide an individualized and personalized learning experience. We use predictive data analytics gathered from a students’ learning path, learning behavior and goals to deliver a truly personalized learning experience. Our matching algorithm, big data-driven, patent-protected system, allows us to match the right learners with the right teaching consultants. We look at four major components when analyzing the best fits. These factors are: students, teaching consultants, content, and classmates.

Even if we match the right student with the right teaching consultant, what truly matters is that our learners can receive immediate feedback, which is what makes live human-to-human (h2h) interaction invaluable. Live h2h interactions is the next trend in the way people connect, learn, share, and conduct business. Imagine if you could overcome language, physical location, and time barriers to advance your business? The future of technology has arrived.

In the end, replicating standard education models and making them available online doesn’t necessarily increase efficacy rates. If the learners are not learning, then what are we doing in the education business after all? We strongly believe companies that focus on driving learning efficacy will be the most successful moving forward.

Jerry Huang is COO of iTutorGroup, among the world’s largest online education platforms providing real-time interactive language training and easy access to experts on-demand. Jerry has more than 20 years of experience in digital and enterprise technology at organizations including IBM, WorldCom and various major U.S. retailers. Follow him @huangjerry 


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