The Education System Is Locked Inside Its Own Pipeline

By allison vannest

As a salesperson I’m familiar with a popular sales methodology called the “sales pipeline.” The sales pipeline looks like a funnel. At the top of the funnel you have your cold leads, which are earliest in the sales process. Those convert to middle-of-the-funnel opportunities that are warmer in the sales process. And finally, you have bottom-of-funnel opportunities that are hot. They ultimately turn into closed won deals.

As they make their way through the sales pipeline, sales teams have various phone calls, emails, and in-person meetings with prospective customers. This week at littleBits, Mizuko Ito, cultural anthropologist and Professor in Residence at the Humanities Research Institute at the University of California, Irvine, spoke with the team about what she dubbed the “education pipeline.”

Navigating the Education Pipeline
Mizuko proposed that, for the last century, the education system has been locked in its own pipeline that looks something like this image.

For students, this trajectory has outlined a successful education career path that requires 20+ years of dedication to achieve. Students move from children in elementary school to young adults in middle and high school, and ultimately college and a career. They complete school activities such as pop-quizzes, homework, and standardized tests along the way.

Safe to assume you’re seeing the parallels between the respective sales and education pipelines?

But Mizuko argues (and I agree) that this education pipeline is drastically outdated — especially for the advanced technological world students are going to be inheriting over the next 5 – 20 years.

In the current, outdated education pipeline, teachers aren’t able to incentivize awesome activity amongst their students; instead, they simply prepare students for homogenous careers. However as The World Economic Forum reports, “65 percent of children currently in grade school will take on careers that currently don’t exist yet.”

We have no idea what the jobs of the 21st century will look like, but it is safe to assume they will be heterogeneous, futuristic, and technical. And it’s these heterogeneous careers that the “Connected Learning Model” is able to better prepare students for.

Adopting New “Connected Learning” Programs
Many older educational institutions are facing a crucial moment in time where they need to make decisions. Decisions around how to better adopt these new advanced learning programs in order to provide their students with proper and adequate educational justice.

Mizuko’s “Connected Learning Model” has 3 key pillars that are both essential and relevant for today’s youth to be educated around. They are:

  1. Interests: Through activities like mentorship, camps, and competitions, the connected learning model enables a student to be dramatically influenced by their particular interests.
  2. Opportunities: That interest then turns into the student creating a unique opportunity for his or herself such as a project they decide to work on.
  3. Relationships: That opportunity then galvanizes other relationships amongst his/her peers to partake in this same opportunity they created.

This connected learning cycle allows students to create incredible opportunities for themselves at an early age that will have a life-changing impact on the future career path they decide to take on. It also exposes the student to so many other unique fields and topics out of the standard norm they would never get to witness in the traditional, outdated education pipeline.

A majority of the education industry recognizes and understands that their field is dramatically evolving as we speak. People are taking on new, exciting careers that better align with their interests and allows them to invent the future they want to live in.

If schools want to see their students keep pace with the rapid evolution the world is experiencing then they need to act. They can’t stay complacent with the status quo. They need to provide the proper keys to success for their student population, otherwise they’ll continue to stay locked in the traditional education pipeline and families will find alternative forms of education for their child. Let’s break free together!

Max Ringelheim has been working at littleBits since March 2017 and is currently the Channel Manager of Resellers and Vertical Markets at littleBits. He works directly with a variety of different customers including Museums, Independent Schools as well our U.S. and Canadian Education reseller partners. He enjoys playing tennis, golf, basketball, going to the beach, meditation, and working on startup technology companies.

Twitter: @maxringelheim


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