Updated: Feb 29
Technology has transformed industries across the world — whether it’s finance, retail, or travel. The education sector has also started seeing a massive tech-enabled transformation in the last 6-7 years. In fact, the edtech market is supposed to grow to a whopping $252 billion this year.
Yet, given that the global education market is over $5 trillion, and is only 2% digitized, decision-makers in the sector are still trying to figure out the best way of incorporating technology in learning. Some methods are now well-established — apps that assist classroom teaching, digital assessments, online tutoring, and so on.
At the same time, education providers are constantly looking for newer, more innovative ways to integrate technology into the learning process. One such cutting-edge technique that’s become extremely popular of late is student-generated content competitions. Educational institutes— whether it’s schools or colleges — are now using online contests to validate students’ learning outcomes.
These contests are both extremely diverse as well as thoroughly engaging. Here’s why education providers across the world are embracing online contests:
Consolidate learning and promote peer learning
Across the world, the focus of schooling is shifting from rote learning to critical thinking. In order to establish this culture of critical thinking, it’s important to find ways to assess whether students are learning to connect the dots. In this context, online contests are a great way of getting students to consolidate what they’ve learnt and reflect it in a piece of user-generated content.
Not only does this content help the teacher assess whether the assimilation of information is happening correctly, but it also acts as a tool for further learning. Teachers can leverage this user-generated content as examples for other students. Students are much likelier to understand and internalize a concept when it has been designed by a peer, and in a format that feels comfortable and familiar.
A fun way to engage students
Students today — whether it’s primary school kids or college students — are digital natives. They’ve grown up with technology at their fingertips, and are comfortable with digital devices in a way that no generation before has ever been. Which means that the key to engaging students lies in tech-driven solutions. Unfortunately, regular online classes are now passe. Students are looking for something extra, which draws them into the learning process while also generating intrigue, excitement, and a boost of adrenaline. Most online contests use the principles of gamification— providing a fun yet competitive way to engage students.
Integrating the community
Contests are a great way of integrating the entire education community— not just students but also faculty, family, and friends. Let’s take the National Memory Master competition as an example. It’s a nationwide memory competition that culminates in a national championship for 16 finalists on a cruise along with the chance of winning a $10000 prize. The first stage in the competition is the submission of a scouting video as part of the online contest— through which the finalists are selected. The cruise is not only for the students but for their parents as well— creating a well-rounded, diverse contest that encourages intermingling between students, parents, and faculty from all walks of life.
Long-term assets for the institution
While contests are a great way to validate learning outcomes in the short run, they also serve a much larger purpose for the education providers that organize them. A school that runs a contest also ends up generating a huge amount of marketing collateral in the process. The user-generated content can then be used to showcase both the ability of the students (and thereby the quality of education at the school) as well as the kind of avant-garde education techniques that are being used at the school. This has a really great impact when it comes to applications and enrollments in the long-term.
Diversity of the contests
The other great thing about online contests is that they can be used for a wide variety of purposes. The Radical Innovation Award, for example, operates in the travel and hospitality sector and invites industry-transforming ideas from students— with total prize money of $18000 at stake. In fact, there’s a whole range of online contests that are gaining momentum — from robotics competitions to music innovation contests to virtual reality innovations. Which means that contests can not only facilitate better learning outcomes when it comes to the academic curriculum but also add colour to co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.
Online contests have been in vogue for a while now — especially as a marketing strategy. But their use in the education sector is actually far more holistic. It enables schools and colleges to ensure learning levels while also creating major enthusiasm and engagement among the students. And not just the students, but friends, faculty, and family as well. With online contests, education providers seem to have struck gold — the perfect intersection of technology, learning, and engagement.