Working for TCK Schools & Learning, (which recently changed its name from “ALA”) I have learned what living through an industry investment boom feels like. I have been in coworking space during my internship, and so there are many other businesses and startups strewn around the room. As I do my work, my boss repeatedly brings to my attention when a group nearby has been speaking about education, or when he comes in he mentions that he just spoke to someone who is also working in the education industry. I am not in or near any education focused districts, so it is interesting to hear how many businesses are doing similar projects in such close proximity to me.
Nearly all of the companies in the education industry are working to create online schools and incorporate technology and social media into student learning because of the growth potential. Online education is easily distributable, and the market for better education around China, a developing nation, is immense.
Although the industry is dense with competition, TCK schools still has room to succeed. The following SWOT analysis should give insight into why I believe this is so:
- Its strengths lie in the fact that the curriculum is centered on active learning methods and PBL which improves traditional student learning and allows students to produce a Public Portfolio Product which helps them be internationally competitive when applying to universities. The advisors for the project have a strong track record with people such as Kyle Wagner, an education expert who has implemented PBL into many of the top schools around China. TCK curriculum follows AP guidelines which helps students get into schools abroad with transferable credits, and we are building an online community motivates students to learn. We have created a rigorous screening and hiring program for teachers, and the owner Andy has connections that will allow us to readily implement our system into schools.
- Our weaknesses are that we don’t actually have students from around world and thus cannot give students a full and authentic international experience. Additionally, the curriculum was created fully by interns with no education experience and it has not been revised fully by education experts. He do not have any trained teachers. The forums and the online community we currently have are very basic and are not customized to the needs of the school system.
- Our opportunities stem from the fact that we have worked backwards, creating the school system from the business’s goals. Many projects were designed with a focus on the marketing campaigns that can be made with them. Our system encourages students to do co-curricular activities which they can enjoy and which allows us to partner with co-curricular companies looking to reach the student market. Also, many 2nd tier city schools in China (our target audience) are starting to search for new school systems in the coming years.
- The threats to this company are that there are many competitors in the EdTech industry of China and that schools and parents get the impression that we are over-monetizing schools because of our token and point systems. Furthermore, students who have difficulty communicating in English may not want to go to a TCK school because of how heavily it focuses on the individual’s English-speaking ability.
The investment boom largely started because of a change in policy. The party is pushing for innovation through education, and as a result business follows the newfound change in demand. Business, the government, and the people are all attached here in part I believe because of how highly the people here value and trust their government.
On a more personal note, I see that I have become a different person because of this internship in China. I would have liked to record all these changes, but in the midst of it all it is difficult to reflect. I know I have grown more responsible. I will want to talk to grocers, bankers, and people I don’t know when I get back to America. I will try to grow and make any business I value and that I am a part of as profitable as possible. I will constantly strive to be involved in the administrative functions of business, and I will try to be kind to others even when they are bitter to me. I see in myself how some people are merely bitter because of a hard day at work.
This is all part of my life now and I cannot hide from it. Seeing real work has shifted my psychological standing, and I know that I cannot go back home and slip into inaction after having experienced it. It will make every second of sloth more painful than it may otherwise have been if I had not come. I am thankful for this.
I need to make the most of everything I have.