A Once In a Lifetime Story of Digital Transformation In Education

Digital transformation in education has been here for years, but the very same discussion is still going on.


Editor’s note: this is part one of a two part piece.

Will technology finally disrupt education?

Every other industry is facing remarkable and furious transformation, but in education, the notion of a classroom, a teacher, a lecture, an assignment, homework, exams and grades  has barely been transformed.

I would even say that, most likely, we have just begun to replace the physical experience with some technology, very little extension of the experience to be called transformational. (MOOCs, Khan Academy, online learning, smartboards, etc.)

Yet, this is certainly the beginning of something that, when it picks up speed, will massively transcend history, heritage, quality, geography or tradition. True disruptors have begun to appear (Minerva, Global Edupreneurs)

I have been privileged to be exposed at the very forefront of these early days with some of the most transformational minds and I would like to share my personal journey.

I have been a teacher for over 18 years, teaching at high school, college and post-graduate levels at five different institutions in four different countries.

I also have been an executive and entrepreneur at some of the most relevant technology, telecommunications, consulting and marketing global firms, having a significant role in designing and executing digital transformations.

The convergence of these fields plus the deep knowledge of the Latin American marketplace, have been a fortunate opening for me.

It has inspired a vision, the will to integrate a multi-cultural, multi-disciplined, multi-generational and gender-diverse set of talented and dedicated collaborators for a once-in-a-lifetime journey to transform an old business model and to build a space to innovate, explore, define and pursue ideas for the future of education.

After five years of leading this wonderful journey, I have some valuable lessons learnt, insights, accomplishments, failures and reflections of the education industry.

Let me start by setting the context:

Is education an Industry?

Over the past few years, education has begun to open up.

  • The presence of venture capital investment, a massive play of for-profit organizations have entered the education space,
  • The increased impetus for public-private partnerships (PPP) with education at is forefront,
  • Education and internet have been identified as the true equalizers of our world,
  • A Nobel price has been awarded to a female teenager from an emerging country for her inspiration to enable women to aspire for quality education,
  • The real connection between education and work has been exposed, and the change of focus from average to personalized is about to hit publishing (http://www.toddrose.com/endofaverage)
  • The need for English as a Global voice owned by no one and spoken more by non-natives than natives has introduced unforeseen elements,
  • Access to quality content regardless of infrastructure, location or social status is becoming not only feasible but mandatory
  • Education has a preponderant role in developing skills for the future that are the fundamental drivers of the Global Agenda (ONU objectives)

This ecosystem is finally coming together in balance, there are still strong voices opposing profit purposed organizations entering education but in my personal opinion, there is no way back. Purpose has to find profit and all stakeholders have a balanced perspective of education: students, teachers, institutions, governments, parents, countries and the Global community at large are building an exciting and thriving industry.

Next- An old business model?

Fernando Valenzuela
Fernando Valenzuelahttp://www.cengage.com.mx
Fernando is currently head of Aspen Institute education program in Mexico and Partner at Global Impact Edtech Alliance. He was formerly President McGraw-Hill Education, Latin America. He is a recognized senior executive, entrepreneur, speaker and board level leader with international background. He has founded and led successful enterprises in Latin America for over 25 years. He holds a Degree in Computer Science from the Universidad Iberoamericana, and an MBA in International Business by the University of Miami. Active member of Wharton Fellows, ENOVA Network of Latin America CEOs, Center for Hemispheric Policy and Council of the Americas, board member at Inroads. He was most recently President at Cengage Learning / National Geographic Learning Latin America and founder of LINNEA, the First Laboratory for Innovation in Learning Experiences in Latin America. There Fernando lead the transformation of the educational models and creating high value learning experiences by engaging students with technology. Website LinkedIn

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