Innovation in education: magic numbers?

Innovation in education is also about magic numbers.

For many of us, the magic numbers are the number of students, teachers, schools that can benefit from innovative solutions to change the way we learn and teach. Do we value education in view of the more than 750 M. students that go to primary school worldwide or their roughly 30 M. primary teachers? Do we focus on the 125 M. young children and adolescents that have never started school or have dropped out?

For some of us, the magic numbers are pure macro. US $ 5 trillion spent worldwide on education (8 trillion by 2020).

Do we value education according to the needs of million or according to the trillion spent every year?

For others,magic numbers are product-based: 400 million tablets sold and many of them in schools 150000 education apps in the ,appstore, US $ 3.2 billion for Learning Management Systems (LMS)…

Magic numbers give vertigo to education policymakers, entrepreneurs and investors.

Innovation in education may be worth what an education startup is worth. The first half of 2015 alone saw education technology companies raise $1.6 billion across 167 deals. In April 2015, LinkedIn purchased Lynda.com for $1.5 billion. Ellucian that services, from to higher-education institutions across 40 countries was valued at $3.5 billion, the same than Blackboard and its LMS.

$ 3,5 billion represent roughly 350,000 more than the $ 10,000 spent yearly on average by an OECD country on their students. This would mean that Blackboard is worth 350,000 students! It doesn’t make much sense, no?

alice change

Innovation in education may be worth what a student is worth. In that case, it may be worth the debt he or she contracted to get an education. For instance $ 1,2 trillion for US students. It may also be worth what an educated student can bring in terms of GDP growth. A study commissioned in the US showed that raising the education standards just half of Finland, one of the top international performers in terms of student achievement, could add more than $50 trillion to GDP between 2010 and 2090.

It may also simply be worth the $ 10 to $ 50 charged to some students on a yearly basis to access a 1:1 collaborative environment on their tablet at school or worth the hundreds of dollars of school materials spent every year per student…

We could go on endlessly and easily get lost.

Innovation in education is worth a lot and this “lot” will vary according to the high expectations of entrepreneurs and investors, the equally high expectations of students, teachers, parents or policy makers.

When thinking of innovative startups in the field of education, one should realize that the value is not predefined by some success stories but should come as the result of a genuine transformation of education processes and a measurable impact in learners’ skills and knowledge. In other words, there is no magic numbers on a market that will be at the same time hopefully increasingly rewarding for investors and entrepreneurs and increasingly demanding in terms of social impact and achievement.

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