Seven mega-trends to watch in education


In April, Navitas joined thousands of education leaders, ‘ed-tech’ entrepreneurs and education industry investors at the Annual ASU-GSV Summit in San Diego, California. This summit, sponsored by Arizona State University and Global Silicon Valley, connects education start-ups, investors, thought leaders and education organisations of all sizes and is considered the ‘go to’ industry event. Navitas was well represented, with Patrick Brothers (Chief Development Officer) and Maria Spies (GM – Navitas Learning & Teaching Services) joining panels discussing workforce development and global talent supply and demand. Tim Praill, who recently joined Navitas as GM, Strategy and Transformation, also attended.

You can watch a Q&A panel session from the delegates or take a stroll through the highlights below:


7 mega-trends our delegates took from the conference…


  1. Return on education

    This is about increasing focus on the educational impact an institution has on its learners – what’s the return on our investment in education? With greater transparency and integrated Big Data analytics, investments are being directed to those education companies who can demonstrate scale and impact.

  2. Hollywood meets Harvard

    We need to create education resources that are highly engaging, leading people to learn because they are interested rather than pushed. Hollywood is also a reminder that large investments in content quality have potential to engage massive audiences.

  3. KaizenEDU

    Kaizen is Japanese for ‘continuous improvement’. KaizenEDU refers to ‘continuous learning’ and views all people as students. Episodic learning (school, uni, job) is being replaced by seamless, continuous learning driven by a constant need for new knowledge.

  4. Big data

    Advances in data science and database technology have unlocked insights for a wide range of industries. In education, recommendation engines and adaptive learning systems are powering personalised learning.

  5. Mind, body & soul

    Brain research and cognitive science are providing new insights into how we learn. We’re beginning to appreciate the extent to which the brain is influenced by physical fitness, happiness, diet and wellness.

  6. Knowledge as a currency

    The old “ticket to ride” was a degree. The new ticket is a Personal Learning Portfolio that incorporates content, courses, and experiences curated over time. Fundamental skills include critical thinking, entrepreneurship, quantitative reasoning and communication.

  7. Mobile

    Nearly 90% of high school and college students own a smartphone – it’s the first thing they look for when they wake up and the last thing they see before going to sleep. Learning platforms must be mobile friendly. Wearables are just the beginning of the ‘quantified self’…


And some personal insights from our delegates…


  • Clear pathways into jobs and ROI on education will become the critical decision-making factor for students. Some don’t like to think of it this way, but a lot of education is about increasing earnings potential.
  • The student profile is changing and now includes ‘millennials’ and lifetime learners. Millennials have grown up with internet, mobile communication has become the norm, they want it now, and it has to be flexible. This poses big challenges for the historical one-size-fits-all face-to-face approach to education. Companies who respond to the needs of these students will be successful; it’s not about reforming student behaviour, it’s about meeting user needs.
  • How we learn will change forever – companies like Minerva, with no physical location (‘the world is their campus’) re-imagined education. Their curriculum is full of that new generation of soft skills we’re talking about and it’s a blended university experience, make the most of technology to provide a really great learning environment.
  • Investment in Ed-Tech is booming – there are plenty of inflated valuations but also capital to scale. There are really interesting things happening in Australia with companies like Learnosity and Smartsparrow, and China is matching the US in education industry investment.

Patrick came away thinking:

No one’s cracked online! Scaling education is still so hard to do well; contrary to expectations, online education can be more expensive to create – you can’t just find something and replicate it in video form! There seems to be a general focus on the education industry at the moment, where it’s really shifting from people thinking of it as a well-established system to lots of people and companies trying to ‘crack’ it.



  • The learning-skills-work nexus is the focus for investment and growth; there’s an emergence of companies described as ‘skills brokers’ – Google, McKinsey and others were talking about this. One speaker was based in Africa, building a school for coders and developers. The school is free, so in high demand, which means they can select the top students. Students are paid to go through an education program, but when they go to work, they are still employed by the school, and keep coming back to continue their skills development. Governments are of course also very interested in the jobs – skills nexus.
  • Government won’t be the biggest investors in education – and this has implications for an industry which is highly regulated and ‘protected’.
  • The future of content is free and open, vetted by thousands of experts. Quality will be crowd-sourced and Amazon are already getting into this space.

And, finally…



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