Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Increasing college costs and the search for new education models


College tuition is continuously increasing. According to Forbes, in 2017, private colleges planned to raise tuition to almost double the current inflation rate. For example, Massachusetts, recently announced that tuition at their public universities will increase by three percent this fall. This increase follows five percent or higher increases within the past two previous years. In the last twenty years, tuition has increased more than 100 percent at public four-year institutions and more than 60 percent at private four-year institutions after adjusting for inflation. During that same period of time, family income has increased less than 20 percent. As a result, student loan debt has skyrocketed. In 2016, the average debt per college student was just over $37,000. In total, Americans owe over 1.4 trillion in student loan debt , a number that’s larger than the annual GDP of Russia, Australia, and Spain. Clearly, the current model is broken and unsustainable.

According to the MissionU website2, while the cost of tuition continues to skyrocket, the value of a bachelor's degree is plummeting. Only 18% of students who start a bachelor's degree graduate in 4 years, and less than half of those strongly agree that it was worth the cost.


The emerging, new education model discussed here has three key components:
·         It employs internet-based technologies 1
·         It involves a major shift in focus from providing a 4-year  on campus college education to simply acquiring the necessary skills to begin rewarding careers1
·         It involves institutions investing in their students, instead of vice versa3


MissionU, San Francisco3
MissionU charges no monies up front. Instead, students agree to pay 15 percent of their salary for three years after graduating from the program and securing a position that has a salary of at least $50,000 a year.
"We are in the midst of a national crisis around student debt," said Adam Braun, CEO and co-founder. "We need to have institutions investing in their students, instead of vice versa."

Learner’s Guild, Oakland4
At the California-based Learners Guild, students go through a 10-month software development program. The school does not ask for any tuition unless they are able to acquire a job that pays at least $50,000 a year. If they do so, the students share 12.5 percent of their salary with the school for the next three years.

Holberton School, San Francisco4
Holberton School has a similar structure. Students attend school for nine months before participating in a six-month internship. After that, students are encouraged to find a job while continuing to study online for the next nine months. Holberton requires its students to pay 17 percent of their internship  as well as 17 percent of the first three years of their salary, only if they accept a position paying more than $50,000 a year.

Make School, San Francisco4
Make School conducts its program over a two-year period, in which students come to school for nine months, leave for a six month internship, and return for another nine months. The students can use the final nine months to focus their studies on specific areas of computer science that intrigue them. The school collects 25 percent of students' internship salaries as well as 25 percent of their first three years salary. If students earn less than $60,000 a year following the program, the repayment is paused, the school says.


In this newly emerging education model, elements of ancient Chinese Medicine can be found. This  helthcare system developed independently of Western medicine 3,000 years ago.  Historically, a Chinese Medicine doctor was paid a retainer to keep their clients healthy.  If a client became sick, the doctor would not be paid until the client’s health returned.  In a similar vein, a doctor that resorted to surgery was considered an inferior doctor. If doctors did their job correctly and helped their clients stay healthy, there would be no need to perform surgery.


Posted by: Dr. Nat Tuivavalagi

Sunday, November 12, 2017

German Education Goes Digital

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the German education system is a thing to be envied. In particular, Germany has some of the highest rates of school enrollment and youth employment in the world(1).

This record is surprising for two reasons.  First of, Germany spends less (4.2% of GDP) than the OECD average (4.8% of GDP) on education(1).  Second, German schools seem to have been reluctant to go digital(2).

Digital transformation has entered various sectors of the economy in Germany. However, the education sector has remained largely unaffected(3).

Smartphones, notebooks, and tablet computers are an integral part of daily life for most young Germans these days. However, the use of digital media in the classroom isn’t catching on as fast as one might expect(2).

It has been reported that interactive classes, bridging the gap between traditional education and modern technology, are a scarce commodity in Germany. This is a country that prides itself on its engineering prowess and manufacturing skills(4).

Some reasons have been cited for lack of digital transformation in the German education sector.  In some cases, students are not allowed to use their devices (especially smartphones) in schools. In some cases, teachers lack confidence in using the latest technology.  However, the biggest issue is funding(2).  And other articles (e.g., 5) have emphasized the fact that digital education in schools is indeed an expensive undertaking.

However, with hopes of making a ‘big leap’ in digital learning, former German Education Minister Johanna Wanka promised to invest 5 billion Euros in 40,000 schools(1).

It has been stated that Germany’s education system appears poorly prepared to equip its youngsters with the tech skills they’ll need for the future labor market. Nevertheless, we are beginning to see signs of the needed change in political will.  Also, companies and private initiatives are pushing for change(4).


Posted by: Dr. Nat Tuivavalagi