The Education Marketplace: Simplify, Centralize and Modernize the Student Experience

Direct students, parents, educators and administrators to a centralized platform, where they can easily access digital tools and information

Photo of Susan Scranton

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There has never been a better time than the present to take a hard look at our Education system. What we continue to hear are complaints surrounding the cost, quality, and outcomes-- while educators struggle to meet a variety of demands within tight budgets. Students and parents today are overwhelmed by the vast amount of educational tools, resources and paperwork required in the journey through K-12 and post secondary.  Repeated requests from administrators and an unending supply of software tools lead to confusion, frustration and anxiety--in a generation of students that are justifiably concerned about future employment opportunities and escalating education costs. One very obvious factor is the complexity that has grown out of decades-long attempts to modernize the education sector.  Stakeholders have been unable to agree on single approaches that would 'transform' the sector, and the result is a disjointed model that protects the interests of institutions and constrains the user.

What we need today is a simplification of the tools and information offered; to eliminate the 'one size fits all' model; and to create an algorithm-based system that will drive individualized support and direction through the educational services available.  By centralizing and integrating our educational support programs onto a single platform, we can create an equitable system grounded in transparency, efficiency, and ease-of-use.  We need a student-centric model that processes information in real-time, eliminates manual administrative costs and delays, and drives down technology costs in the education sector. We must also eliminate error-prone paper processes, and ensure all financial payments made to schools or their vendors are accepted online, tracked and audited.

By hosting a single end-to-end solution, we will have a clear picture of how well our educational system is working through real-time analysis of data we hold. For example, we will understand how different institutions or geographic areas are performing in program completion, and post graduation job placement. We will be well positioned to understand student preferences and how they match with greater societal needs, and provide well-informed policy decisions for future generations.  For example, costs of program versus starting salaries would drive greater discussions on how to influence the marketplace to develop meaningful employment opportunities. Finally, by hosting data we can react quickly to unexpected events, such as strikes or threats at Educational Institutions, and communicate important 'real-time' messages to those impacted. With data securely housed in a single location, we develop the full picture of the individual student, so we can take better care to support those who are vulnerable, isolated or in need of special programs.

The concept of an 'Education Marketplace' could be unlimited, providing academic transcripts, financial scholarships and bursaries, college and university admissions, student loans, online assessments, youth and post-grad employment opportunities, MOOCs, online textbooks and other tools that already exist in the education sector. The key will be to integrate these functions into a self-serve offering that is customized to each user, prompting specific tools and information at the right time in their education life-cycle.  Our overarching goal must be to reduce complexity and not simply draw people to everything under the sun. Using technology well, we can create tremendous benefits that align with our economic, environmental, and security goals.  For example, we will reduce the overall cost of education by eliminating manual administrative costs; we will protect and sustain our environment through paperless communications; we will eliminate security and privacy incidents through a single secure platform; and drive better outcomes for citizens. When we offer customer-centric services,  there should be higher employment, lower defaults, and greater satisfaction with educational attainment.

It is estimated that $2 Trillion U.S. is spent on Education each year ($5.5 Trillion Globally). Although a one-time build of this platform would require significant effort and cost, the future downstream costs would be far lower than the current annual spend. A well architected servicing system would reduce the government's future annual investment, since automated tools and processes would require only upgrades and enhancements.  In addition, manual overhead and administrative costs at Colleges and Universities would be replaced by automated tasks-- paving the way to lower tuition and fees for students.  By partnering with start-ups and well-established solution providers, we would consolidate and/or eliminate redundant IT servicing costs associated with Cloud hosting, network security, and QA testing.   Clearly, we can improve the quality of educational outcomes through client centric technology and reduce the cost dramatically at the same time.  Most importantly, we can level the playing field for students regardless of where they live, their family income, or background.

Have a doc or slides that you're collaborating in? Link it here.

See attached DRAFT Requirements document (attachment).

12 comments

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Photo of Susan Scranton
Team

Hi Lori and Meredith,
Just back from Costa Rica, and I am checking in to see if I need to do anything else on the 'Evolve' phase.  All I have done is add my Word Document as an attachment, but there does not seem to be any method for my idea to be selected (no Button).  Do either of you know what I need to do?  Thanks, Sue

Photo of Lori Freeman
Team

Good morning Susan, I'm excited to be on the team. I would love to jump in and help where I can. Does it make sense for us to jump on the phone to chat? Or is there another place within this online community where you are collaborating with our idea team? Looking forward to working together. 

Photo of Susan Scranton
Team

Hi Lori,

Very nice to meet you.  I sent an email out to you and Meredith on Friday, suggesting a quick call to get on the same page.  I have not heard from Meredith as yet.  I have started a draft Requirements document and attached it with the original concept, and would love it if you could review and send me some thoughts and feedback.  I only have this week to collaborate, as I will be on vacation after that.  Thanks, Sue

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

Hi Susan! First off, I could not agree with you more. There is entirely too much confusion in the entire process. This idea is BIG! The idea of a centralized operating system that would assist students from start to finish in the college journey is inspiring.  I could even see this system having a student portfolio aspect that would assist in the application process as well as selecting careers and colleges that are right for said student.  
To me, it looks like you have started to flesh out the goals of "Education Marketplace" (a name I quite like). By creating this system, what do we hope to achieve? Who will this system benefit? How will we know its working?  I would love to start digging into this idea a bit. Thinking about things like the potential for impact, where to start, metrics, and how to pitch the idea.  If you are interested, we could start working in a google doc.  Let me know your thoughts. 

Have you seen Emma Scripps Make it Visual idea? https://collaborate.teachersguild.org/challenge/reach-higher-better-make-room-teachers-guild-college-journey-collaboration/ideate/make-the-application-journey-visual

or Mary Lim Timeline for Action idea? https://collaborate.teachersguild.org/challenge/reach-higher-better-make-room-teachers-guild-college-journey-collaboration/ideate/timeline-for-action

Might be worth checking out and consider building a team together!

Michael

Photo of Susan Scranton
Team

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the feedback! By creating this system we could accomplish many great things- reduce the overall cost of education by eliminating administrative support activities and redundant technology; move to an entirely paperless process to positively impact the environment, reduce or eliminate privacy and security breaches caused by lost mail and human error, increase accountability for officials and institutions who handle money and manage budgets; ensure adjudication rules are followed to ensure fairness (i.e., student loan applications, grants, etc), prevent delinquency and default for students who are experiencing financial difficulty during or after studies, match students with suitable academic programs and job opportunities, etc.  The system benefits everyone, with the student being the most important stakeholder and the taxpayer also benefitting greatly.  We could monitor and track success through the use of data analytics and direct student feedback, to understand if we see positive impacts in problem areas (drop out rates, defaults, unemployment etc.) I did review Emma and Mary's posts, and think they are great.  These ideas remind me of Customer Journey Maps, which are an effective tool for detailing a process. I would be more than happy to participate as a team, and discuss the idea further.  Thanks!  Sue

Photo of Barbara Lee
Team

Could this build off Naviance, the widely-used college application program?

Photo of Susan Scranton
Team

Hi Barbara,

I am not familiar with Naviance, and I am not sure if it is used by Universities and Colleges here in Canada where I live.  I will check it out.

Photo of Barbara Lee
Team

Hi Susan,
Ah... mea culpa for not thinking outside my own culture zone. www.naviance.com. :-)

Photo of Dan Ryder
Team

"However, our overarching goal must be to reduce complexity and not simply draw people to everything under the sun."

I love that you bring it to here in the end of this post.  A reminder of the goal -- it isn't about more, it is about more effective, more meaningful, more helpful, and thus, more successful.

Photo of Susan Scranton
Team

Thanks for the feedback Dan.  I know it is a bold, challenging and controversial goal-- but clearly a good strategy to transform the student experience.

Photo of Dan Ryder
Team

I'm not so sure it's controversial if it helps to inform decision making, not replace it.

Photo of Susan Scranton
Team

I think it could be controversial in the sense that administrative roles would be replaced with adjudication logic and self-serve tasks in the system. People are very sensitive to job loss, and I would imagine that there would be resistance to this aspect of the solution.  However, I totally agree that such as system would better inform policy making decisions. From what I have read recently, a lot of effort goes into collecting and illustrating student outcomes in the National Scorecard, and this task would be simplified for faster, more accurate data. Need to remember that the reduction of administrative jobs across the Nation would ultimately lower the cost of education for current and future generations.