How Startups Can Help Transform the Education World

December 26, 2016

2:30 pm

CB Insights found that from 2010 to 2014 the edtech industry saw more than a 503 percent growth in total investment dollars. By 2020, it is estimated to be a $192 billion industry. And there’s a good reason why edtech is in high demand among educators.

The current high school dropout rate is 1.2 million across the country, which clearly indicates the need for better student engagement. What is more staggering is that the quality of the education is also on the decline. According to the the National Assessment of Educational Progress, fewer than 40 percent of high-school grads have mastered reading and math and, in general, are poorly equipped for college and real world life.

Teachers are facing other challenges as well. Those include the lack of prolific teacher education innovations that would help them get accustomed to the classroom changes, cater better to different student segments, and embrace the distant learning technology. Unsurprisingly, 14 percent of new teachers resign by the end of their first year, 33 percent leave within their first 3 years, and almost 50 percent leave by their 5th year.

Here are some opportunities for startups to change the state of education with new solutions.

Bringing Virtual Reality To The Classroom

As Mark Zuckerberg recently commented on the VR advancements:

“You could probably go all the way back to the first books. I bet people said ‘why should you read when you could talk to other people?’ The point of reading is that you can deeply immerse yourself in a person’s perspective. Right? Same thing with newspapers or phones or TVs. Soon it will be VR, I bet.”

There’s a point in that in regards to high school education. After all, we’re already seeing how VR is revolutionizing professional training for doctors, athletes, construction workers, and a number of other industries.

Alchemy VR, for instance, is already creating interactive educational experiences covering varying subjects from the Great Barrier Reef, to the Egyptian Pyramids, to the inside of the human body. In this case, students will be able to explore their learning material in fully immersive environments without any distractions.

After all, in two weeks we tend to remember 90 percent of what we see and do according to the Edgar Dale’s “Cone of Experience” model. According to Visual Teaching Alliance, 65 percent of the world’s population are visual learners and using visual aids in the classroom can improve learning by 400 percent. You can be among the pioneers and harness the market while it’s still untapped,

Encouraging More Purposeful Movements

While sitting has been named the new smoking of the 2000s and most companies are trying to move-up their staff with walking meetings or standing desks, kids are still expected to patiently sit behind their desk during classes. Not good.

Recent studies from UCLA demonstrate that sustained physical activity increases growth factors and stimulates plasticity in the brain. That means that keeping kids moving improves their capacity for learning and retaining information.

For startups, the opportunities here are plentiful. You can opt to create a series of educational video materials, which blend in moving and learning at the same time like GoNoodle does. You can building a GPS-enabled discovery game that would guide students around the school premises in an interactive discovery quest is another idea to consider. You can even create an app for kinesthetic teaching that would encourage teachers to incorporate more movements in their delivery and guide them on how it’s done right.

Using Biometrics To Create Better Environments For Students

The biometrics industry is already starting to find place among schools for security purposes. For instance, St. Mary’s High School was the first establishment in the US to install facial recognition cameras to monitor and unlock the main entrance only to authorized personnel. Photos of all students, staff and authorized regulars have been uploaded to the system, along with photos of known sex offenders, disgruntled employees and other people whose presence is unwelcome.

The school’s president Michael England mentioned that this is his attempt to improve the school’s reputation as it’s located in a high-criminal neighborhood.

“I hear all the time, ‘That’s a great school, but oh, that neighborhood’. Like all cities, there are pockets of the city that have issues, but we’re not doing it because we have any issues. We believe it’s a very positive step in the right direction,” said England in an interview with St. Louis Today.

Better security isn’t the only way biometrics can be used. IdentiMetrics has developed a new Finger Scanning ID System that is now deployed in schools nationwide. This systems is aimed at improving the school administration efficiency in cafeterias. Students will just need to scan their fingers to get the meal, hence allowing the line to move more quickly. All the scans are recorded and stored in an easy-to-access database to ensure high level of accuracy.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien