What does the future of education look like, post Covid-19, in South Korea?
Top priority for Korean parents is English! There are tens of thousands of English Hagwons in Korea. A Hagwon is effectively a private learning centre that almost all Korean students will have attended at one time or another to supplement the learning that they get in normal schooling. Most of these learning centres focus on memorisation and not so much on creativity, with many of the expatriate teachers in these centres complaining about the amount of pressure and work the students are subject to.
The style of Korean education has led to a generation of followers in Korea, instead of innovative thinkers in the Korean workforce which is now catastrophically lacking. Korean students are focussed on test results and high grades in order to get into the best universities in Korea. They lack true passion and dream goals. With a rise in AI and machine learning, more jobs in Korea are becoming obsolete and this is leading to a need for students to become entrepreneurs whereby the next generation can be creativity, think laterally and to demonstrate strong communications skills in order to succeed.
Hagwons & Covid-19
What covid-19 has so clearly identified is the need for education institutions to innovate and it is inevitable that some Hagwons will almost certainly have to close due to the impact of coronavirus and local distancing measures. What will inevitably follow is student learning at home, online and therefore Hagwons will need to innovate in order to move forward and collect market share. 5G technology will appear in Korea this year and will allow students to embrace digital education in a range of formats and on a range of different mobile devices. Education influencers will be in high demand and VR teaching will become an important source of technology.
Changing the Norms
As stated before, Korean students need to become more adaptable and entrepreneurial, but along with that they need to become more creative and curious. Korean culture is structured, whereby those below cannot question what happens in the hierarchy above them and therefore not question strategy or decision making. Hagwons focus mainly on getting youths into university, but what if they focussed on entrepreneurship and leadership in order to be at the forefront of the future of Korean students expanding their creative minds.
Workforce has to Adapt
As technology grows, there will no doubt be fewer jobs as robots will be more efficient in terms of productivity and cost. Education needs to adapt in Korea so that students are exposed to more subjects rather than focussing on Maths and Science. Once they become passionate about a subject they can dive into the depth of it. Thinking critically will be key to this. A Korean Hagwon that focusses on a variety of subject will become successful. Why compete with what everyone else does when you have the opportunity to stand out.
VR (virtual reality) Key to the Education Revolution?
A Korean Hagwon has the potential to be very successful with the implementation of VR in their English Curriculum. English teaching has become mundane and children need to be excited again and enjoy their learning. Data backs up the potential for the use of VR with studies suggesting that retention can be up to 70% higher in visual reality. VR can transform the way children learn, however it has not been embraced as yet due to the perception of its high cost to implement. This point has a case but institutions do not need to immediately go and purchase top end technology as their are low cost cardboard headsets that can be attached to a smart phone. This would lead to the implementation of more superior head sets over time. Companies such as Google, Samsung, Apple and Facebook are already leading the market in looking for VR applications in the classroom.
What can VR Provide
Virtual Trips Around the World: Only a few Koreans actually travel outside of Korea in their lifetime. VR can provide field trips to the Louvre, into deep space, to the darkest depths of the ocean and even time travel. There are infinite possibilities.
Connecting Virtually with Other Students: Imagine an English class whereby Korean students can connect with and talk to students in the UK, US or Australia. For that matter anywhere in the world. A cultural exchange can be born.
Teaching Trade Skills: Trade skills are important anywhere and are not going to diminish. In VR students can demonstrate the skill in the cockpit of a plane, learn how to make a coffee as a barista and more. What used to need a controlled environment can be accomplished in the world of VR.
Online Classes: This may seem an obvious point however when you consider that Hagwons generally only attract students that live close by, much the same as a kindergarten. By delivering online classes from the comfort of a students home the market opens up exponentially to the whole country, including the rural areas.
Virtual Tour of your Hagwon: Parents would no longer need to come to the Hagwon to view facilities. An online tour will allow them to tour the Hagwon with the use of a headset and 360-degree view of the facilities. It also allows children to become familiar before they even set foot in the classroom.
English education in Korea is very competitive and difficult for children. Students are under a lot of pressure and Hagwons have the opportunity to make English learning fun and allow students to enjoy their education. There is a huge potential in a post Covid-19 world.
Who will make the leap first?
Read our Series of blogs on South Korea: South Korea, Covid-19 & Education Technology & SOUTH KOREA: Setting Up a New School
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