Education in the age of Technology, Analytics, Social Media & Cloud

As faculty who has been among students for quite some time, I often feel what makes a student industry-ready (or place-able as some would call). Is it responsibility of education system right from school to professional college or student himself in creating on(off)-campus experiences? Many of us have been part of the race to do well in various competitive examinations, secure admission to top ranking colleges that will land us in secured well-paying jobs.

Anecdotal evidence reveals that current education system is geared to prepare textually and leaves too much in the hands of students to experience and learn. Colleges are to be blamed partially for it because they exercise little focus and accountability in achieving the intended student outcomes. While growing up as teens, many had several unanswered questions and ideas that called for constant guidance and nurturing. Absence of well-trained, right skilled counselors in schools/colleges made that impossible to do and achieve.

Advancement in digital technologies has provided an opportunity to take up that challenge and offer a solution to school and colleges. Digital induced disruption is happening in the education industry. TASC (technology, analytics, social media and cloud) platform is an opportunity to overcome the shortcoming of old education systems. Education providers must move faster to adopt TASC to align education processes and delivery. There are many edu-tech startups who are redefining the meaning of education and creating a whole new digital economy out of it. One such digital platform that is riding the wave to cause disruption is Unfurl Technologies.

Unfurl Technologies - a team of technocrats - deliberated and came up with an technology based alternative, UnfurlMinds, to address some of the issues faced by current education system. It imbibed a vision of creating a knowledge ecosystem of participants (students) joining hands with other participants to make learning easier, fun-filled and relevant to future careers. It is a semi-structured networking platform in the sense that it is neither a formal professional network nor a wispy social media. UnfurlMinds operates both on the web and as a mobile based app to provide an integrated, user-friendly platform for students, teachers, employers and parents to connect.

Students get a non-fee based platform to showcase their talents that are not easier to get noticed. They can write blogs share ideas, notes and get connected with alumni who are also on this knowledge sharing network. It makes a student industry-ready by providing an opportunity to connect with the professionals in a right away. The importance of good CV is known to all, the good CV can be built by gaining practical experience and demonstrable skills. Therefore, connecting to the prospective employers to get short term projects, internships and freelance jobs is the key.

It is a widely accepted knowledge that companies prefer good communicators. If a student flunks due to poor communication skills, it is embarrassment to both sides. UnfurlMinds gives a chance to employers to know beforehand, hobbies, interests, skills of prospective employees. They can even organize regular events to attract the candidates possessing the required skill sets.

Teachers can administer assignments, take attendance online and hence, the student don't get a chance to excuse the class. Such features are of a great help in terms of managing the school/college system. Many colleges were left behind in putting proper ERP systems to use. With the app, college can virtually connect to teachers, students , classrooms and the classes.Using analytics colleges can profile the skill needs to identify the gaps and keep their students industry relevant.

In future, many edu-tech startups will start offering fee based services to build revenues. Here are a couple of ideas to monetize and create scalable digital platforms: advertisement revenues from other educational service providers; analytics based services; offering contingent digital services (gig based models); and a marketplace of student focused knowledge sharing by collaborating partners. Existing (brick & mortar) education providers can no longer ignore these upstarts.


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