Opinions & People

Disrupting Education

by Dr Adha Shaleh

These days, it’s futile to mention how technology permeates everything in our life. The education system is one of the beneficiaries of its disruption. But how do we fill the disruptive gap and benefit? 

For many years, the global society has had a more or less winning formula, one that has seen developments and innovations popping up in many industries. Increasingly, an influx of disruptions come to the scene, merging diligent start-ups with cutting edge technologies, and, the burgeoning rise of social entrepreneurs.

The technologies that had come to disrupt the hotel, movie, finance and education, have seemingly providing alternatives to the society. Impacts from these megatrends often served as a guiding principle for many more innovations, and incentives for new players, well, to crowd the market.

What’s more, the next decade or so, the disruptive trend is forecast to grow as the number of innovative ideas isn’t likely to subside anytime soon. That means more megatrends are coming to disrupt the future industries, including education.

Beneficiaries of disruptions

Now, it’s no denying that the key beneficiaries from the disruptive world is the new generation of young learners – the digital natives. For most of them, I would assume that they are comfortable sharing, writing, posting reviews online as they are deeply affected by the digital world. And, yes, they have hopes for the future, with many of them probably planning not to stay longer in the working world as they are eagerly venturing into startups, online businesses, e-commerce and so on.

Dr Adha with students in Cambodia


They have grown up in a world of expanding opportunities, exciting trends, which, if I have to assert again, are strongly influenced by technologies. They aim for authenticity, and always share authentic moments, feelings with friends and families. To them, there is no differentiation between the virtual and real worlds.

I can pass a judgement now that they are more likely to have strong desires to immediately start learning, doing, and taking on challenges, as much as getting reviews for their ‘life experiences’ matter. Doing nothing is a lost opportunity.

For this generation, people, cultures, arts and knowledge are highly crafted into a single electronic device. Everything that can be connected will be connected, and that’s a primer of today’s generation living in the disruptive world.

Obviously, for the young ones who already formed a major part of the Internet of Things (IoT), and with a myriad of social platforms, they are poised to demand for new goods, efficient services, and cheap.

In education, they are the ones needing a more affordable laptop, a more sophisticated style for learning, whether in schools, colleges, and universities. I can only see more disruptions in those areas tied to education because of the proliferation of things, richness of information, constant interconnectivity, sharing information, as well as insights and knowledge.

Hence, there are services demands, and business opportunities, in making education the best possible start for the young ones. In brief, there are huge opportunities for the young minds, the best innovators, and creative ideas.

Disrupting the education trend

I found the current disruptive trends in education (such as MOOCS, mobile learning, videos, gamification), and the power of IoT, play a big part in forming the best startups in education. Good news, the opportunity to be edupreneurs is a reality of the many eager minds from the younger citizens.

Effective way to start the soft skills activities is in a small group

One visible reason that it is highly likely to happen is students’ dependence on technology, and how the world’s nation plans to integrate it into learning. That condition is steering leaders in educational institutions to work with technology and services partner, firms that are much more modern, updated, as they integrate business value chain into the core of education.

In short, the education industry is undergoing upgrading period, where it should not ignore the disruptive trends at all.

Another opportunity that the disruptive trend in education has opened up is, for social entrepreneurs, to fill in the gap that the digital world has failed: the soft skills. Galvanising soft skills has its primacy in the digital age.

Briefly, for a person to master soft skills, he has to gain most of them through experiential learning, community engagement, field study, volunteering and peer to peer engagement. From that point, the following attributes, critical thinking, communication, ethic, discipline, team player, public speaking, and confidence, grow.

Active, and not passive engagement of that sort of skills has advantages, including direct contact with facilitators, immediate feedback, networking and peer to peer interaction. So far, that soft areas are nurtured. To me, this soft skill enterprise shall ‘flag’ down as an ‘attractive business opportunities’ for social entrepreneurs.

Last words

However, due its exceptional method, venturing into this enterprise requires experience individuals who have acquired the attributes in soft skills. In other word, a blend of social and emotional intelligences to predate this enterprise.

Today’s disruptive era comes out from a highly connected society in a rapidly evolving tech platforms for the education industry.

I’m a big fan of the disruptive era, the megatrends, and extremely excited by the business opportunities ahead. I see more advantages for social entrepreneurs, and startups, and it’s a big loss for us not venturing out into a business that merge technology and human traits.

About the Author

Dr Adha Shaleh is a research fellow at International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) in Malaysia. He writes about experiential learning, soft skills, social capital, community engagement in higher education and environment education. He has gained valuable experience from social enterprises, academia and international funded projects. Adha’s greatest ambition is edu start up. At the time of writing, he’s preparing a trip to Cambodia where he will be engaging young learners in a fun learning environment. This initiative is solely his. To reach out, add him at www.linkedin.com/in/adha-shaleh-a97140157/.

Photo from Pixabay

17 Dec 2018
Last modified: 4 Jan 2019
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