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Boris Paillard, CEO, Le Wagon

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Applying start-up principles to educational curriculums

Most start-up companies are obsessed with improving their customer satisfaction rates. Educational institutions can hugely benefit from taking this same mindset: building and improving curriculums based on feedback from students and teachers, with industry insights rather than assumptions.

In order to build a successful curriculum, educational institutions need to focus on their students in the same way that start-ups focus on their customers. That means placing a larger emphasis on measurement: monitoring student progress during the course, collecting their feedback at the end, and keeping track of the hiring of graduates afterwards.

Student progress can be monitored in real-time throughout the curriculum and can be achieved through a number of ways: completion of challenges and flashcards, the number of questions raised and even the basic attendance rate.

By taking this approach, teachers are able to react quickly if a student is struggling and can create more of a personalised teaching method for each student based on their learning needs. The comprehensive feedback process can then be used to continuously improve and enhance the student experience.

Continuous iteration is the fundamental principle behind curriculum innovation. The best curriculum might need several rounds of changes, but that is necessary in order to keep up with new best practices.

The effectiveness of immersive teaching vs. autonomous learning

Immersive technology courses, whether delivered on campus or remotely have proven to be extremely effective for those who want to rapidly acquire new skills and change their career path in a short amount of time. This is a stark contrast to the years that it can take for someone to learn those skills independently with a self-paced learning course.

By working on practical projects and receiving ongoing support from teachers at any stage of the journey, students taking part in immersive programmes make rapid progress along a steep learning curve, and instantly boost their employability. Our latest Jobs Report discovered that 94% of graduates have found a job within six months of finishing a course, with a mere 37.5 days on average to find the role that’s right for them.

In the past, the gold standard of teaching has been the immersion of physical classrooms. However, the pandemic has forced educational providers to adapt and maintain that same level of immersion remotely, while seeking to achieve the same high-quality results one would expect from in-person teaching.

For those providers without a strong background in remote learning already, this can be a rewarding challenge. It requires teachers to develop the soft skills necessary to remotely guide students to correct answers, rather than handing it to them. The style and pace of teaching must be adapted to each student, and their progress monitored as closely as it was in-person, preserving the safe and supportive learning environment that is optimal. This allows teachers to leverage a friendly group dynamic, encouraging mutual support and maintaining high levels of motivation across a virtual class.

Keeping teaching anchored in employability

It’s vital to stay focused on employability for students — that is, after all, the end goal. An impressive job placement rate is one of the most important KPIs that an educational provider can judge themselves on. As well as maintaining an in-house careers service and cultivating a hiring partner network, there are a number of ways that educators can stay anchored in employability throughout their courses.

The simplest way to keep students’ skills aligned with their future careers is to stay up-to-date with industry best practice. With a majority of teachers practicing what they preach each day, they’re compelled to stay on top of the latest trends and industry developments for their own development.

When it comes to STEM-related educational courses — like software and data science for example — it’s important to help students stand out to potential employers. This means allowing them to take part in practical-based classes as part of the course, whether that’s the opportunity to build their own web applications or take part in data science projects.

Graduates are able to then finish a course with a portfolio of completed projects that they can showcase and leverage in discussion with potential employers. It’s equally important however to teach students to gain soft skills as part of their learning, which is fundamental for industries like data science that are constantly evolving.

Wider lessons

While digital skills bootcamps, such as Le Wagon, already had a robust remote learning component, the pandemic forced many other types of education providers to transition quickly to a remote programme. Naturally, this has prompted questions from students about the quality of their curriculums, especially in cases where tuition fees are high.

This trend will only continue. It has become critically important for educational institutions to re-evaluate how they operate, focusing on their students and improving both their curriculums and the overall learning experience — perhaps in line with a few of the principles discussed above.

Boris Paillard, CEO, Le Wagon

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