What does a nearly six-century-old private school that charges $54,000 a year in tuition do when confronted with start-ups with bright ideas about how education should work? If you’re Eton College, alma mater to much of the British establishment including the serving prime minister and the mayor of London, you work with them.
Two trends are driving the change. The first is that old culprit—mobile devices such as tablets. If students are used to interacting with information on tablets at home, it seems strange to them to not use one at school. But schools and universities need to figure out how best to use them. The second trend is more structural: While education is often seen as the process of teaching children facts and skills, another important aspect is learning to grow up and dealing with life’s ups and downs. Harrison says that is the most important aspect of what Eton does, but one that existing education technology companies have not focused on. That is the area the school is interested in promoting.