Education evolution not revolution

Tribal's Product Marketing Manager, Nathaniel Harvatt takes a look at the evolution of music vs education over the years - and the similarities and differences between the two.

Music Evolution

Apart from listening to the radio, people didn’t have much choice as to the music they listened to until 1930 when the first commercially available vinyl record was launched. But it didn’t really catch on until 1948 when Columbia Records came up with a less expensive, more reliable version. EP's and LP's remained the formats of choice until the mid-1960s when 8-tracks were introduced. Although popular it was quickly replaced by the first compact cassette tape in 1963. The actual technology itself was like the 8-track, but the cassette tape was a marked improvement in quality. However, it wasn’t until 1979 when Sony released the Sony Walkman that the cassette tape really caught on. The Walkman was the first truly self-contained music system, and as such was a driving force in the sale of cassette tapes. I remember my first Walkman, do you? It was blue and yellow with the flimsiest set of headphones ever that itched my ears after about 20 minutes. But I didn’t care because I could listen to music in the garden, or whilst doing my paper round! In fact, the Walkman spawned a new habit — listening to music wherever and whenever I wanted.

Quick on the cassette tape's heels was the compact disk, released in the early 1980s. It was developed by Philips, and used laser technology to read a disk. In 1982 Sony released the first CD player. I didn’t upgrade to a portable CD player for some time, I kept upgrading my Walkman until one fateful summer holiday in France when I fell asleep sunbathing and woke up to the sound of my U2 mega mix tape not sounding quite right. It wasn’t a low battery, more that I had left it in the beating sun causing the tape to melt and destroy the Walkman. So, I upgraded to a Panasonic portable CD player. It was great at first; better sound quality, but it didn’t travel well and only really played if it was flat. Then there was the issue of carrying CD’s around all the time, so I just ended up listen to one album repeatedly which got boring very quickly.

In 1999 the first MP3 (MPEG Audio Layer III) player was introduced. Now let’s be honest no one could ever really get an MP3 player to work, so you ended up with the twenty or so songs you managed to get on there the first time and that was it. Looking back, it was a total waste of money.

With MP3s music was moving into the digital age. In 2001 Apple released iTunes 1.0 and followed this by launching the iPod in October. iTunes offered an easier interface to transfer music compared to MP3 players and iPods offered bigger capacity to allow for whole music collections to be stored and listened to anywhere. Remember the "1,000 songs in your pocket" slogan? It took off, and the rest is history. I remember getting my first iPod and storing my entire music collection on it; it was overwhelming at first having everything just a few clicks away, and it worked in the sun and without needing to be flat!

The next advancement would come in 2008 when Spotify launched its music streaming service allowing users to listen through any internet-enabled device as broadband, mobile phones and tablets allowed people to use a device they already owned to listen to music rather than needing to own a specific device. Apple followed suit by launching Apple Music in 2015.

From needing a record player, to a Sony Walkman, to an iPod to an app for streaming music, the formats and the way we interact and consume music has evolved. Route around in your junk draw at home and I am sure, like me, you will find that old Walkman, CD player, MP3 player and iPod in a tangle of wires with the odd mix tape for company. They hold nostalgia and a sense of worth, but with literally any song instantly available to us at a push of a button, they are actually pretty worthless. Holding on to this technology is pointless. Times have moved on and I have moved with them by getting rid of all my CDs replacing it with a simple monthly subscription. I love it, music anywhere, anytime without the clutter of CDs all over my house.

Education Evolution

So, what has this got to do with education? The way education is delivered and consumed has changed beyond belief in the same period. Advancements in technology have changed how education is delivered, from blackboards at the front of classrooms, to interactive whiteboards, to rooms full of computers and IT suites, to chrome books, tablets and mobiles. Those advancements have required tools, technology and systems to keep pace.

Young people today can access vast amounts of information with a simple search, from historical records to videos of experiments, to live feeds of events happening around the world, in a matter of seconds be it at home or on the move. As a result, the tools, technology and systems needed by education institutions today have changed, and a student's expectations and the experience they are looking for has also changed. 

How have things changed?

Let’s go back 10 years to 2006/7. What was the education experience like?

  • Most interactions with an education establishment were paper based relying on the postal service or delivery by hand. This meant longer response times and waiting times to apply for a course or enrol. Lots of time was spent in a queue!
  • Students had access to grants for further education and fees were lower for university so graduates left with lower debts. Expectations of the service and the experience the education institution provided were lower as students didn’t pay directly for the education they received.
  • Most education resources were only available in print with limited copies available to students.
  • Support for students was only available 9-5 and usually only available by visiting in person to resolve the issue; the alternative of either telephone or email led to long response times.

What is the experience and expectation of a student in 2017?

  • Students expect to interact with an education establishment via mobile or tablet to obtain the information they need and access resources.
  • The removal of grants for further education and £9k + fees for higher education mean that students are thinking more about the choices they make and which education institutions they attend as debt is now much higher when leaving education.
  • Now that students are paying more to study they are broadening their horizons and ensuring they attend the very best institution for them and their future career. A more consumerist approach is being taken with students' and supporters' expectations significantly higher than before.
  • Students communicate both positive and negative aspects of their time in education via social media which can either increase or decrease an education institution's reputation and future recruitment prospects.
  • Support needs to be available 24/7 to support the connected online environment that students now live in and use.

Quite a contrast in only 10 years. Many processes and interactions have become digital with greater demands and expectations placed upon education institutions. It has spawned a habit amongst the students of today, an expectation if you will — access to key information wherever and whenever they want.  

In our recent global education market survey, you told us that the main driving force for considering a change to your student information system would be to offer a better student experience and save costs. But that is something easier said than done, and you agreed with us by saying that capital outlay costs were a major reason not to change in the first place, not to mention the fact that it might be disruptive and take a lot of resource and time from your existing teams. 

In the instant access, digital world we now live in how can we ensure that a student's experience meets their expectation? As an education institution, how can you meet the challenges of ensuring success across the student lifecycle, and continue to thrive in an increasingly competitive market?

The next evolution in education is here! It must be all about the student experience, but not just how the campus is laid out or what colour the carpet in the classroom is. Students are at the heart of any education system. They are amazing. So, we have set out to not just meet student expectations; we aim to blow them away. We know you want a better student experience because we asked you. We know your students want data at their fingertips because we asked them. We know you're afraid of changing student information system - it can be expensive, time consuming and disruptive. We're giving you a better way.

How? Tribal Edge is the new way to manage the student experience. It’s modern, it’s designed for the cloud, with the flexibility to work with any current student information system, and it complements what you already have so you don’t have to be concerned about ripping out and replacing your current student information system. It is easy to deploy, easy to manage and easy to pay for. It’s scalable meaning you can buy as much or as little as you need. So, you can evolve at your own pace and in your own time, gradually moving without the need for lengthy implementation programmes or a drain on team resources. Each module can be used stand-alone or combined to provide a truly mobile, engaging, and supportive experience for students and staff that delivers deep insights to improve outcomes.

We have seen how the music industry has constantly sought new ways of delivering music to us in new formats as technology advanced. These improvements have improved the quality and experience. That’s why, like you, we’ll never stop improving what we do as we constantly seek new ways of improving the quality and experience for both education institutions and students. We wouldn’t go back to cassettes and CDs today, so why stick with dated processes and systems?

We want to help you keep more students in education and empower them to achieve all they can. Technology has advanced, times have moved on and that’s why Tribal Edge is focused on the student experience so you can personalise, thrive, and exceed expectations.

Download the Tribal Edge brochure

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