From education to employment

University students are outsmarting educators in a broken system

Marnix Broer is the CEO of StuDocu

As we leave the summer behind and march towards a new school year this autumn, questions on what the future of study will look like are in the thoughts and worries of the many educators and students going forward.

Will school campuses reopen?

Even if they do, 60% of schools in Europe believe that their educational practices will not be the same, because COVID-19 has magnified the growing fissures between how educators teach and how students study.

What are the weaknesses of the educational system? And, how are students finding ways to circumvent that system’s challenges for study? This article will explain how today’s students are outsmarting educators and are pushing educators to adapt their methods of teaching and ameliorate the problem before it becomes too difficult to handle, especially given the many uncertainties surrounding COVID-19.

Weaknesses in the educational system?

One of the glaring weaknesses developing in schools and the education system today is the adherence to blind and rote memorization to study and pass examinations. Essentially, many educators are choosing to reuse or recycle exams over and over again throughout their years teaching a single course.

The culture of note sharing, and student collaboration is not secret but rather a beneficial aspect of a well-functioning dialectic. It should come as no surprise that the students eventually figured out, they only needed to memorise a previous exam to pass their own for that year.

How are students outsmarting their educators?

As the head of the global student collaboration platform, StuDocu, we have seen firsthand students and their propensity for note sharing and collaboration. It is, in our opinion, a fundamental aspect of proper education. What we did not anticipate was that this sharing would eventually reveal a glaring weakness in the educational system. Only a year after we started, nearly an entire class at the University of Groningen, who had used our platform, passed one of their exams with perfect marks.

Naturally, this caused a bit of an uproar, but we believe it had less to do with our platform and more to the point that the students had duped their educators.

Now, during the pandemic, we have witnessed a massive expansion of students using the platform to collaborate and share notes. When schools closed in Milan because of the coronavirus, there was a 100% increase in users. What does this tell us? What does this say about the future of education?

In a nutshell, it tells us that students are no longer looking to their educators or their schools to provide the materials and knowledge they need to pass their courses. Furthermore, if they are simply memorising study material and acing their examinations, what are they learning? What can educators do to stem this rising tide of students circumventing actual and practical study?

Future of education- educators and ed-tech

As our users grow, we know that the platform works for and provides what they need to study, and educators, along with the school systems, can no longer continue to disregard these trends in ed-tech. There is a multitude of areas in which the system of education needs to be fixed, not including the novel issues that will invariably arise in the pandemic. 

The first move for educators to alleviate the divide is by creating fresh and original examinations. It will be an unfortunate change for those students looking for an easy A, but it would eliminate the possibility of students acing exams without learning anything about the subject.

In the end, a person’s education is simply the preparation for their career, and examinations should reflect that better, by showing a student’s understanding instead of just remembering, and also stimulating students to learn and prepare together. Teamwork is at the heart of many jobs and careers, as it is an environment where we must work together to understand any problems or tasks that arise. That is why the education system must take the care to demonstrate to their students how to prepare before joining the workforce.

The next change that should take place is a broader collaboration between ed-tech platforms and the institutions of education themselves. However, a problem that could arise with this is that some educators may not appreciate the value of student note sharing, and prefer students do all of their work alone, which would prevent any collaboration between ed-tech and those educators. To move forward, those educators would simply have to adapt.

Collaboration between ed-tech and educators could also mitigate many of the issues that arise when study and education are remote. Educators can upload their lecture notes on the platform and allow students to study directly from that; some students do not have the time or ability to sit through a two-hour lecture. It would enable students to learn while they are remote and pass their examinations.

Students are turning more and more to online ed-tech platforms for their studies; it is high time that educators find a way to bridge this growing gap and work with ed-tech to supply students with the quality education that they deserve.

Marnix Broer is the CEO of StuDocu, the Ed-Tech platform focused on collaboration and note sharing in higher education. They currently have over 15 million active users.

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