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Published on the 04.06.2018

Could Growth Hacking be Used to Improve Education?


Summary

  • Growth Hacking is trendy and has shown it could bring game-changing solutions to any type of organization
  • Data & innovation are very much targeted by Education today
  • Growth Hacking could and should actually be used by educators to improve their programs and courses
  • Growth Hacking applied in Education becomes Hacking Learning: the application of learning processes aiming at accelerating knowledge integration for students. And aiming at optimizing courses towards more soft skills application in projects/initiatives. All of this backed by data analysis and constant feedback
  • There are so many advantages to teach students in a Hacking Learning way from igniting initiatives in students to teambuilding for faculty

It's been years since Growth Hacking became one of the most searched terms in the field of Marketing, start-ups and entrepreneurial activities. Big companies like start-ups are now screaming out loud to find a "Growth Hacker" without really knowing what it is, which is particularly fun to watch.

Wait, back to basics:

  • Let's define “Growth Hacking” as the use of data and simple processes in order to make your company grow as hell thanks to short, fast actions and with little money invested. Growth by all means is... well the goal of Growth Hacking.
  • Then you have Growth hacking process, which is kind of based on design thinking. Its goal is to optimize and organize your team so that there's constant ideation, constant testing, rapid product development, and data collection in order to ensure a product market fit and.... well, obviously, the success of your company.

More and more academies and agencies come out on the stage teaching, particularly interesting Growth tips, the most interesting being, I think, the Dutch academy Growth Tribe. And now things begin to be interesting. Universities like The University of Amsterdam teach students Growth Hacking, and it's not the only one. That's a good thing.

But what if Education, from primary schools to universities, was powered by Growth Hacking?

In a way, it's more and more the case and several elements, currently under use and development, prove that Growth Hacking can actually work well with learning processes.

A Focus on Data to Improve Learning

The focus on data for Education came in 2011 approximately, under the name Learning Analytics. You probably know this term, it is “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs”. The original goal? Giving the tools to professors that'll let them ensure that their students learn, that their course content is adapted to students and to make sure the professors can improve it thanks to data. It works as hell for online courses. For in-class environments, it takes maybe a little bit of creativity to collect and analyze data...

Continuous Improvement of Learning as a Factor of Success

If you take a look at some accreditations for business schools, universities, corporate universities etc. like AACSB, EQUIS, EOCCS, you'll understand one thing: the only schools/universities that get to be certified are the ones that demonstrate a focus on the continuous improvement of learning. They need to show that they constantly ask themselves how students are learning and not how professors are teaching. An angle that triggers data-backed decisions to improve course content, syllabus, exams etc.
These two elements show well that...

...Yes, Growth Hacking could be applied to Education. The question now is: Should it be?

I mean, a university, a school isn't a company. Its goal isn't to grow as much as possible.

Oh really? Well, it depends on which kind of growth you're talking about

Let's not think about revenue and let's change growth KPIs to learning growth and innovation growth. More than money (because, yes, we all know that, money rules schools too), the goal of a school is to form future professionals that'll disrupt or succeed on the market, right? The more you help shape great professionals, the best it is for your school right? It ain't that different from the goal of growth hackers, a school should aim at hacking learning. Hacking Learning?

Let’s call it a set of learning processes aiming at accelerating knowledge integration for students. And aiming at optimizing courses towards more soft skills application in projects/initiatives. All of this backed by data analysis and constant feedback.

After all, if students can learn and retain more in a shorter amount of time, they could get more out of their time at school as well as have time to experience extracurricular activities where they will learn essential skills which aren't taught in the classroom.

Ok so why then should educators use "Hacking Learning"?

Hacking knowledge, Learning Soft Skills

Knowledge is everywhere and most of the time (especially when you're a student) for free. Rather than sticking with programs that are easily doable in less than a month instead of a semester, why not get things exciting a little and telling your students they're going to learn as hell thanks to easy tips?
Growth hacking is also the art of doing more with less. The best example of using it in learning is by looking at Tim Ferriss.

Famous growth hacker, entrepreneur, author and investor, this man learned in no time how to become a chef, a martial art champion, bestselling author etc. For this, he has methods based on efficient, realistic processes that could totally be adapted to Education whether it is about learning how to learn in a particular domain, learning to process projects or else. Learning efficiently is hacking knowledge. Why efficiently? To save time for more important things, learn and apply soft skills in concrete projects, initiatives, innovations, contests. All these skills that will shape students as innovators and successful professionals and human beings.

It's all about creativity

The core of every Growth Hacking structure/ process is always the same: Creativity and Ideation. Based on your observations and previous data analysis, you must come up with ideas to improve what do you. Classrooms or online classrooms are the perfect places to test and observe things while following a syllabus.
Professors can change their course content or class formats as much as they want: from doing a simulation, role-playing games, to classic conferences, the same course can be adapted to many different contexts and formats.

It gives autonomy to professors and lets them focus on pedagogy

UUsing these processes and techniques give professors a complete autonomy on how they'll teach and their syllabi.
Obviously n°1, as their experiments with students are always backed by data, as long as students learn well and show progress and engagement, a professor cannot be criticized or strained to change its program.
Obviously n°2, by putting an emphasis on creativity and in-class/online experimentations, professors focus on pedagogy and innovative ideas. We have tools today to automate whatever isn't pedagogy, from exam creation/grading (TestWe) to campus management etc.

Let's not waste time and focus on what's more important: your students learning and experimenting!

Make the faculty work as a team

Just like it works for companies, Growth Hacking works for faculty and professors. Collaboration is key to improve not just a course but the entire school's learning processes. And to optimize the team organization, there's this:

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A whole process that can be adapted to any kind organization. Pretty much based on Design thinking, this process ensures continuous ideation, testing, progress and it is teambuilding!
Moreover, Growth Hacking/ Hacking Learning, according to this process ensures a culture of innovation and experimentation that keeps an institution always at the top of Education's innovation.
Finally, as ideas get ranked according to their feasibility or money needed, you get the better out of nothing --> doing more with less just like less is more.

Offering a competitive advantage to students

Teaching in a Hacking Learning way means also integrating students in the process of improving the course, finding ideas and new ways to learn and practice by asking them feedback and by understanding how they work... By doing this, students inevitably learn the creative processes they'll have to use during their professional activities. Simply put, it gives them a competitive advantage.

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