Against this background the US will probably soon experience even greater entrepreneurial dynamism in the education sector. Not a single day goes by without entrepreneurs there proclaiming that they are utilising new findings from the fields of learning and teaching combined with the new technical capabilities offered by information and knowledge technologies in order to improve adult education. Venture capital investments of more than USD 1 bn in 2012 in all areas of educational technologies (from e-learning, learning management systems, and social learning networks right through to learning assessment systems and career planning services) indicate that even before the PIAAC results were released investors in the US recognised that the continuing acquisition of skills is one of THE growth markets. This is giving rise to new services that provide people with personalised access to experts, tutors and teachers as well as to other learners. New highly diverse learning courses – whether in a bricks-and-mortar educational institution or in virtual classrooms taught via MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and/or apps – are appearing in both the higher education and the further vocational training sectors and even in the general adult education segment – especially in the language learning segment.
Eoin Treacy's view While distance learning has been around
for a long time, the advent of online courses and e-learning is enhancing education
at a prodigious rate. YouTube alone represents a considerable resource for anyone
with a question on anything from auto maintenance to cooking.
With the help of webcams and intelligent software, formal online course providers can ensure that students are sitting at their desks. Some of the ways this is achieved is by identifying individual key stroke patterns which are unique to each person and by checking the person is present by taking occasional webcam snapshots. Such innovations help to improve the credibility of online qualifications and are encouraging universities to make more of their courses available online. This is helping to bring down the cost of higher education and helps level the playing field in terms of opportunity.
Increased networking capacity such as provided by Citrix Systems and its webinar software are also helping to reduce corporate costs while ensuring that education can take place without travel. The net effect of these innovations is that individuals can pursue a lifelong learning path at their leisure which should on aggregate improve productivity and enhance growth potential.
It is therefore little wonder that the education centre is seen as a growth engine. This site may be of interest in exploring some of the more prestigious institutions offering online courses and iTunes U represents an additional resource.