The education industry didn’t stop when the pandemic started. Instead, it had to change rapidly to meet the growing needs of learners at all age levels. To be sure, the curve was steep and rocky at first. Many people resisted moving classrooms in a digital direction. Now, though, schools and colleges — along with their faculty and students — have begun to embrace the opportunities remote learning offers.
How the Education Industry is Adapting to Remote Learning
Online schooling seems like it’s here to stay. By the end of 2025, Gartner predicts that around 90% of America’s public school districts will offer hybrid-style instructional environments. These unique learning opportunities open doors for entrepreneurs and companies to develop software and tools to make the transition seamless and effective.
Of course, many providers have already introduced state-of-the-art technological solutions aimed at fostering knowledge through digital means. Below are several key results that have come from the past year’s innovative thinkers and businesses.
1. Online and in-person education are seen as complementary approaches.
Before Covid-19, plenty of families and pupils thought of online education as an alternative to in-person instruction. Lockdowns showed that online learning could be just as effective in engaging learners. In fact, many schools have decided to keep their digital schooling components for the future.
The digital classroom allows for tremendous flexibility for both teachers and students. However, it’s not an entirely new approach. The makers of Canvas, one of the world’s leading online learning management tools, led initiatives in 14 states to bridge the digital divide prior to 2020. Tens of millions of users were already familiar with the Canvas platform, especially in higher education. Now, even more students are comfortable logging into the portal to receive personalized instruction and mentoring.
With so many young people familiar with cloud-based programs like Canvas, the idea of hybrid classrooms will become more accepted. This approval means that over the coming years, the marriage of online and offline education is likely to be expected.
2. Teachers have discovered new instructional methods.
Gen Z kids are digital natives. Using a device to log into a classroom or “hand in” homework seems natural to them. Conversely, some teachers have had to become more comfortable instructing in digital forums. The skills students have learned — often by trial and error — have spawned peer-to-peer continuing education workshops to foster sharing.
Colleges are trying to help up-and-coming teachers and current instructors, too. Take the University of Florida’s e-Learning arm. Not only does the University’s site feature online learning best practices, but the institution provides videos and other helpful tools. The goal is obvious: Help instructors understand how to leverage the unique aspects of digital educational and remote learning platforms.
What types of required coursework be added at the collegiate level to teach coeds how to maneuver effortlessly between online and in-person environments? It’s not hard to imagine a day when would-be teachers are expected to take a certain number of “remote teaching” credits to earn their degrees.
3. Career changers are finding innovative ways to upskill — remotely.
Leave it to Google to imagine different ways to disrupt the education industry status quo. In March 2021, the search engine giant announced plans to offer professionals certification in a number of subjects. The goal is to help career changers make moves quickly and potentially avoid the need to go back to college.
Though Google’s coursework won’t be free, it’s set at a price point that’s affordable for many adults. Additionally, Google promises 10,000 scholarships to kickstart its programs and get people displaced by Covid-19 back into the workforce.
Google isn’t likely to be the last company to envision remote learning as an answer for workers who need advanced training. With so many barriers to distance learning broken thanks to the pandemic, people are more open to upskilling digitally. And employers will have to decide which programs’ certifications they want candidates to possess.
4. Extracurriculars have gotten extra-special treatment.
A huge concern among parents and educators has been a dearth of extracurriculars in many schools. Art and music programs frequently have received second billing to other courses. However, the coronavirus gave many schools a chance to rev up their extracurriculars and allow all students to join in.
With sports activities brought to a halt at schools, many young people who would have spent time competing could explore their creative sides. This gave rise to many extraordinary projects, including Zoom performances and socially distant concerns on Facebook live. Many extracurricular clubs found homes online — and members who were eager to interact, even students considered introverted or shy.
Will more extracurricular clubs and activities be available online rather than after school in the coming years? Really, why wouldn’t they be? Not every student can commit to staying 30 minutes each Monday to be on a debate team. But the same student might be able to log onto an online session later on Mondays to practice forensics online. The more flexible a club can be with its online scheduling, the more successfully it can appeal to increasingly diverse participants.
5. Teachers are recording their sessions to use for a variety of purposes.
When you teach in person and online students simultaneously, one way to reduce the chance of anyone missing out is to record the session. That’s why so many teachers have begun to create videos of their daily classroom lectures — and the videos are proving useful in multiple ways.
After a class has been recorded for students who can’t attend in person or one who may have failed to attend because of connection issues or trouble logging on — the session can be stored. It can also be used as a quality assurance tool. For instance, the teacher may want to review the session to listen to student questions. Understanding learners’ most frequently asked questions can inform the next day’s lesson plan.
Administrators may rely on the taped lessons to evaluate the quality and efficacy of their teaching staff. Randomly spot-checking instructional online videos can show if a teacher has mastered the skills required for effective online teaching as well as interaction with the onsite learners concurrently. If the instructor or professor hasn’t gained acceptable proficiency in this area — the administrator can suggest resources to improve the teacher’s abilities.
The pandemic has been very difficult for teachers, administrators, students, and parents. Nevertheless, it’s brought about some of the most exciting advancements that the American learning system has seen in recent years. And those advancements are poised to transform the way we think about delivering and receiving a quality education.
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Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending
London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.
According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.
The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:
“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”
The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:
“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”
The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.
The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.
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Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs
As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.
Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI
In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.
According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.
One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.
To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.
Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.
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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations
As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.
Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation
To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.
The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.
Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.
The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.
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