Home schooling

Hybrid schooling spells new opportunity…

Jamie Williams and Jess Cox

(And you don’t have to be in education to benefit)

Working from home is the norm in a post-pandemic world, but what about home schooling? Many of us may have assumed that parents couldn’t wait for their kids to get back to the classroom, especially after all those home-schooling memes dominated social media during lockdown. Yet, when we asked a representative sample of parents to tell us more about their experience, it was surprising to discover that just over a third would like home schooling to become a permanent fixture for at least one day a week. If this were to happen, it could provide a viable and profitable opportunity for growth for a huge range of businesses who may have never previously worked with education providers.

Research tells us that 38% of parents felt home schooling had a positive impact on their relationship with their children and would therefore favour a hybrid model of home and classroom-based learning. This model would encourage education providers to diversify their offering, which would often depend on collaboration with new sectors such as technology, gaming, AI, language centres and charities. Learning is continuously evolving, and provides just one example of how important it is to use real-time insights to spot opportunities that you might not have considered before.

More than half of parents (56%) said that they would welcome support from subject matter experts in overcoming the difficulties of educating their own children. Difficulties include engaging children, finding new ways to teach, behavioural guidance, lack of resources, and complex subject matter – these kinds of customer insights shed light on huge gaps in the market and should be central to your strategy decisions.So whatever your area of expertise, consider this your green light to think imaginatively of ways to create and offer new solutions to the problems that your audiences might be facing. Here’s our starting point…

Gamifying education offers new prospects for tech

The way that children learn is rapidly changing, and keeping them engaged outside of the classroom is one of the biggest challenges that parents face – so say 63%. Gamifying education could provide a solution by boosting student engagement and inspiring greater collaboration across the learning community.

Introducing innovative teaching techniques could also enable parents to adapt to the new digital learning environment and help them overcome the key challenge of keeping their kids focused. Modern learning presents a real opportunity for businesses with the expertise to ceate gamified platforms that use virtual reality and artificial intelligence.  

A good example of this in action is Duolingo, which is an app that teaches languages through a skills tree of listening exercises, flashcards and multiple choice questions to drill students on words, phrases and sentences. Fellow learners can chat and share their own experience, which builds a community with a common goal. Duolingo also uses what’s known as ‘machine learning’, a method of data analysis that identifies patterns in learning behaviours in order to create personalised learning plans. These make students feel more involved in the design of their own education, which, in turn, leads to increased engagement.

Alternatively, Kahoot! is a game-based platform that enables teachers (and parents) to assess students’ levels of learning through trivia quizzes and games. These are specifically designed to not resemble traditional classroom activities, which also boosts engagement. These examples are part of a hugely exciting education revolution that has already begun.

Education First now uses virtual reality and machine learning to create ‘real life’ scenarios and an immersive experience for students. This allows them to practice their languages and receive instant feedback. Imagine if history students could be transported back in time via this kind of immersive technology, or those studying geography could travel across the world to explore different ecosystems. The key is to think differently – what is your business capable of and can it be applied to a sector you haven’t explored?

There is, however, something else to consider, which expands the opportunities opening up for different kinds of technology businesses. Nearly half (47%) of parents told us that enhanced online schooling calls for increased safeguarding. If this is your area of expertise, you could create a whole new solution to many of the challenges that home schooling presents.

Data teaches us about the future of education

Parents want and need your help. Learners do too, and not just schoolchildren. In Yonder’s work with both traditional players and disruptors in the world of education, insight gleaned from talking to parents and students alike has informed the evolution of education resources that range from textbook development to the Cambridge English Placement Test. By applying the same customer-led insight approach to the education sector as you would apply to commercial businesses and their customers, we’ve helped to bring about innovation and accelerate relevant investment in response to the rapid changes brought about by Covid. By continuously gathering real time insight from your customers, you can spot these types of opportunities (of which education is one) and use them to power growth.

Business opportunities beyond tech

There remains a pressing need to protect the mental health of children, and 41% of parents tell us they need extra help in caring for their children’s emotional wellbeing post Covid. Again, this opens up avenues for businesses to get creative in searching for solutions. Tech providers could team up with charities, for example, to create wellbeing platforms or confidential chat forums. Knowing that this is a priority for parents, how can your business support the emotional wellbeing of young people? Is wellbeing a key value for your workforce? If so, it could be worth reaching out to local charities, academies, schools and learning centres to find opportunities to showcase your company values and support young people.

When considering your future offering,  be mindful that not all parents have equal access to digital resources. 66% of those surveyed said the pandemic had served to increase gaps in inequality. While this presents further challenges for parents, it also presents further opportunities for businesses to find ways to bridge the gap. Given the current context of the rising cost of living, which accentuates social inequalities, any action you can take to counter these will have a hugely positive impact on your brand reputation.

Refurbishing and redistributing used laptops could be an option, or even providing materials at cost could be something that your business tools lend themselves well to. Anything you can do to support parents will not go unnoticed, especially as their own mental and emotional wellbeing is an important factor in all of this.

Nearly half of those surveyed (47%) stated a need for direct support while 40% said they required materials that were simple to use. Until now, teaching tools have been created for teachers, whereas parents have begun to use the same for home schooling. It’s therefore imperative that education materials are designed to be more accessible for those without a qualification in teaching. This is certainly something for education providers to consider.

The opportunities to benefit from the hybrid model of schooling are many and varied. What started out as a short-term solution during lockdown now has the potential to become a longer-term and far-reaching option for all. In engaging with parents directly, both education providers and businesses outside of the education sector can ease pressure on teachers, and create brand advocates out of both parties. It’s a win-win.

Opportunities for continuous evolution are vast, and hybrid learning models represent just one example that you may not have considered. Now is the time to take insight led action by applying deep, customer-led insight to spot growth opportunities, diversify your offering and respond to your audience’s ever-changing needs.