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The American higher education system is a
dysfunctionalmoney-sucking machine, according to John Katzman,
“If you look at the increase in tuition in higher ed in the last 30 years, it makes the housing bubble look like a pimple,” Katzman said. “In a sense, [universities] are working to create the iron lung machine. They’re looking to build something that can’t possibly be the right answer. The right answer is that we have to dramatically lower tuition, while improving quality.”
Katzman is best known as the founder of test prep and admissions consulting company The Princeton Review. He founded Noodle in 2011 with the aim of helping to navigate the complex web of educational resources.
“I’ve come to realise that as frustrating as it is for education providers, universities, schools, tutoring companies, fitness instructors, anybody to find students, it is equally frustrating for parents and kids to find the right education,” Katzman said. “It just struck me that that was fixable.”
Noodle offers a comprehensive gateway for educators and students, helping users find the right schools, tutors, and tutorials for them. For example, a prospective graduate student can look up different schools in their area or abroad based on price, field, and type of program. The goal of the Noodle search is to help students find the tools that are the right fit for them, instead of the tools that are the most well-known. A key to the business are the alliances that Katzman built nationally to pool resources into one, sleek portal.
Katzman argues that better information is the first step to reform.
“The technologists can’t figure out how to work with the educators,” Katzman told us. “The educators can’t reach the right students and parents … if you can clarify it, find a way for everybody to find everybody, you’re going to get better learning, better innovation, and you’re going to get lower costs.”
Katzman expects that online education will be a big part of the solution.
“[In online classes] the professor’s time is spent teaching a small number of students, and every moment you’re together is a dialogue,” he said.
Noodle represents one of many ways that online education tools are disrupting the university system, as forecasted by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen. Change is coming and this company could help students find their way forward.
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