A Post-COVID learning world, Part 2 😷 Transcend Newsletter XXV

Emerging funding models for higher education and roles to design virtual experiences. Last week to apply for our fellowship!

Hope everyone is staying safe out there! We bring you the second part of our analysis around the world of learning that is emerging after the pandemic.

We also want to remind you this is the last week to apply for our Transcend Fellowship, a fully-remote (and free!) fellowship for early-stage founders building the future of learning and work (check out the awesome people who’ve gone through our program before).

Learn more here and apply by this Friday April 24th!

Do you know anyone who’s building an interesting project around the world of learning and work? Share the fellowship with them so they can take it to the next level!

🚀Share our Fellowship with a friend 🚀

The future of learning post-COVID (Part 2)

Last week we covered our first two theses around the post-COVID learning world: that college was not going to follow its usual counter-cyclical growth, and that training teachers was key to improving the (so far awful) experience students are having with online learning.

This week we cover the next two: the emergence of hybrid funding models for higher ed, and the need for virtual-only experience designers.

Hybrid-financing models

As we explored last week, students saw in universities the opportunity to upskill during the 2008 financial crisis, and thus set the tone for a consumer funding model that has historically dominated higher education. Lately, employer-funded models have also come into the mainstream, mostly through Income-Sharing Agreements, but these will likely suffer due to the recession as well.

In this current crisis (which again, won't just last this quarter but will extend until a vaccine can be distributed globally), there’s a potential for change in higher ed, as momentum picks up for emerging hybrid models that distribute the risk between the student, the university and the employer.

Let’s imagine this year students may be less willing to pay for four-year university tuition all on their own (since the university experience will be less interesting if campuses remain closed, and there’s a growing sense of an unclear “treatment effect” for attending university): what if universities offered students shorter-term courses for in-demand skills (software, cybersecurity, data skills and others making up the global skills gap), and then have employers or recruiters pay for a part of their tuition if they are hired or placed? Those employers could even bring them on board through apprenticeships and learn in the job, or through internships through the length of the program. A more flexible, employer-funded Trilogy model?

And the moment may just be right: a survey asked individuals this month what their top preferences would be if they received education and training today: the top answer was online colleges and universities (26%), followed by apprenticeships/internships with a local employer (18%), and online community colleges (17%). These were followed by in-person at a university (15%) and community college (13%).

It sounds like something many universities wouldn’t want to take on as it would take a hit on their brand (as unaccredited, fully employer-focused courses), but those same universities are likely the one who will be just fine (the universities that have such strong brands that students are willing to pay full tuition for their degrees, even if they are fully online).

This also opens up opportunities for startups that have specific skills training expertise and OPMs (external course providers for university-sponsored courses), as universities demands for partnerships seem to have anecdotally increased in the last month (based on my own conversations with founders).

From conversations with different stakeholders in the last month, my intuition is that a big part of the increase in demand for alternative education will be driven by immersive online experience that combine a community (for accountability and belonging) with a relevant skills education (and perhaps tied to employment outcomes or hybrid funding model).

This feels like a perfect storm to bring some needed change to higher education.

Virtual experience and curriculum designers

Last week, a friend mentioned he had a weekly call with his friends every Saturday night, and he complained about how awful of a social experience it was. He mentioned he'd be willing to pay someone to facilitate the weekly calls and make it more interesting, playful and coordinated, just like he would pay someone to coordinate his wedding and design the full experience.

Let's take that idea to the (virtual) classroom: as we saw in the last issue of the newsletter, students and teachers alike are struggling in this new environment. Training teachers on managing virtual classrooms will be a key factor in improving the experience, but one thing is clear from this transition: there's a great need for virtual experience and curriculum designers that specialize in this online environment.

As more and more learning happens online, I imagine this new role of a virtual experience designer will apply to the design of the curriculum, the facilitation of synchronous classes and experiences, as well as potentially specializing in the assessment during live sync classes, to work in a tight partnership with traditional experience and curriculum designers.

Read about best practices for live discussions in virtual classrooms

All in all, my bet for an emerging model in higher ed coming out of this crisis will look something like:

a) online, but more immersive programs (for accountability and flexibility, and designed *for* the online environment),

b) funded through a hybrid financing model (tied to employment outcomes and sharing the risk), and

c) Through new partnerships between universities and startups.

What do you think? We’d love to get your thoughts: please leave a comment or reply to this email!

👀OnDelta (bootcamp for growth marketers and Transcend Fellowship company) is offering 2 free seminars for those who want to understand what it takes to work as a growth marketer - sign up here!

👭We are organizing another online discussion about how to facilitate effective online discussions (too meta?) with Professor Looser (from Minerva Schools) on Thursday @9AM PST. Join us!

🎒Some school systems are quickly ramping up their capacity for online teaching, such as Los Angeles, where now where 60% of primary students were able to access it (a 3x increase in just two weeks) and 96% among high school students too. Many are looking to China for lessons on this transition too.

📹40 UK teachers got together to create Oak Academy, providing free video content for teachers and adding 100+ video courses every week during the lockdown. WideOpen School is another great resource for teachers, including best practices and resources.

👩‍🏫Just Ask is a new initiative to connect tutors and students around South Africa through WhatsApp during the lockdown. Learn more about the program and how you can get involved.

If you want more brain candy, check out our Transcend Reading Notion page and our Open Theses around the future of learning and work.

All the updated job opportunities can be found on our Job Board!

  1. Multiple roles - Camp K-12

  2. Software Engineer - Eedi

  3. Teachers (Multiple) - ZipHomeschool

  4. Data Analyst - Generation.org

  5. Product Engineer - Junto

  6. Front-end Engineer- Memberstack

  7. Product Designer - Twenty

Fill out this form if you are looking to hire or get hiredand check out our job board for updated openings.

Thanks for reading another week! For any feedback, requests or ideas, simply reply to this email.

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Alberto Michael