A family in Asia on an average spends more than 40% of their income on education related products and services. Yet, employers continue to complain about how university graduates are not ready for the workplace despite the 16 years of formal education.
The lack of applicability in education system has created high unemployment rates and lack of talent worldwide. This calls for a more skill-based education where individuals are trained to fulfil the demands of the workplace and at the same time a way of delivering education that allows working adults to upgrade their skills while balancing their studies with work and family commitments.
To enable more educational content that is relevant, flexible and affordable in Asia, Lithan Hall Academy, Red Dot Ventures and TIEN Academy launched an edutech accelerator on April 23 that supports individuals with deep domain expertise in developing their own online content. Participants of the accelerator will be provided a personalized open online course (POOC) platform upon which the courses they design and develop can be delivered via various media. While resources like Khan Academy, Lynda and Coursera are freely available to Asian students, the Lithan EdTech Accelerator supports individuals in creating online content tailored for local audience. Henry Khiat, head of academic and operations of the company, believes that Lithan courses will foster more engagement than is done by Massive Open Online Coursewares (MOOCs), such as the kinds found on Coursera. “MOOCs have a notoriously high student attrition rate because student engagement could not be sustained,” Khiat says. “Just because you give someone a book doesn’t mean he or she is going to read it. Similarly, our aim is to keep our students engaged in the courses they enrol in, so that they finish them within a set time period.” To do this, the POOC platform helps educators implement a variety of teaching methods that have been known to improve learning outcomes in the classroom like blended learning, flipped classroom method, mentorship, etc. Instead of using class time for lectures, which will now be delivered through the POOC platform, class time can be used for activities and discussion that allow students to actively engage themselves in course material.
Individuals interested in developing their own online courses as a part of the Lithan EdTech Accelerator first join Lithan’s 6 week long edupreneurship bootcamp which helps participants ideate and validate a viable and scalable business model. By the end of the bootcamp, participants would create a business plan using the Lean Canvas with the help of mentors and learn how to develop a blended learning course. At the end of the bootcamp, participants pitch their edutech ideas to a panel of investors, the results of which determine their entry into the Lithan Accelerator. The 100 day Accelerator focusses on the execution phase i.e. developing the online course on the POOC platform provided by the Accelerator. Participants will receive training in course design, training equipment and facilities, mentorship and funding during the 100 day Accelerator. “We are looking for enterprising individuals, who can be outsource partners or investee companies, for the design, development and distribution of skills mastery courses in Singapore and across the region,” says Leslie Loh, Chairman of Lithan and Managing Director of Red Dot Ventures. “Through the Lithan EdTech Accelerator programme, we hope to find and develop these new breed of educators,” he adds. The first bootcamp has started on June 15, 2015, which will be followed by the 100 day Accelerator.
Anuj Jain, one of the mentors of the Accelerator, looks forward to the first batch of participants. As someone who has travelled extensively in India and South East Asia, he sees a lot of value in this initiative. Jain says, “People in deep provinces of Vietnam, Manila or Malaysia have no access to good education. The gap between the skills provided by the traditional education institutions and those which the industry demands is significant. If people in Singapore with all the facilities and platform could come out with ideas that could go global, that’s a great way to contribute to society and do something meaningful.”
While the lack of infrastructure and poor internet access could be a potential obstacles faced by Accelerator participants, content produced by the participants could immensely benefit those who are able to access this technology. Asia’s classrooms have largely been centred around learning that has proven to be redundant in the modern workplace. We need to move towards a more applicable skill based education that can be accessed widely at low cost. The Lithan EdTech Accelerator helps us take a step in that direction.
Photo Credits: Ivan Levic
About the author:
Payal is a student entrepreneur based in Singapore. She is interested in the education technology space and is currently working on a social network for e-learners (smoocer.com). Apart from entrepreneurship, she enjoys blogging and travelling