In the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin had propounded his theory of evolution, emphasizing the continual state of change that our world is subjected to. In his time, ‘Apples’ and ‘Blackberries’ were good for physical health. I am sure after all his
research in nature and science; Darwin wouldn’t have imagined the meanings these fruits have come to acquire today.
The debates on the ‘techi-ficaton’ of education have always been central in our fast evolving world. Through highlighting the role of online platforms in learning and how technology is used in education, here are a few reasons for you to believe in the up- side of the process.
Personally, I don’t think Technology is restricted to being an add-on to conventional practices. For me, it has changed the entire way I look at education. Constraints like travel, money or even resources have all been, if not nullified but greatly reduced in importance through the introduction of online platforms for learning.
Not only can I do an undergrad major equivalent at the luxury of an internet connection, edtech e-learning allows me to interact with peers globally through twitter moderated discussions or Facebook pages.
While the wave of productive change is flowing through every other aspect of our lives such as health, living, comforts, shouldn’t education feel the tremors too? This is not to underplay the importance of traditional methods but to stress that we need to upgrade with changing times. In the US, K-12 math and science test scores continue to slide despite the fact that the country has one of the highest per capita spends on education for each student. With globalization and ‘tech-ification’ being the norm of the day, do you think sitting in a class room and giving examinations by rote is all that learning should comprise of?
Taking the example of the US K-12 system further, It is noteworthy to consider that the average debt for university graduates in 2011 was $23,300 according to a report by the New York Federal Reserve, with 10% owing more than $50,000 and 3% owing more than $100,000. Societies have changed from feudal to bourgeoisie, so why should higher education still be privilege based?
Education at your doorstep is perhaps the best way how online platforms are aid to learning. At Coursera for instance, an eager learner has a college consortium on his device. The startup delivers free online streams of selected courses in partnership with world-renowned universities (Stanford, Princeton, Caltech, University of Edinburgh and a dozen others). They currently offer around 100 of these “massive online open courses,” or MOOCs, with upwards of 680,000 registered virtual students studying primarily computer science, math or engineering. Each MOOC offers online video lectures, interactive quizzes and open forums for students to answer each other’s questions.
While the elements of traditional education have been kept alive through assignments and consequent feedback, further formalizing of the process like certification is still in question.
Another Startup Udacity , founded by Google VP Sebastian Thrun, is partnering with testing facility Pearson VUE in an attempt to attain this objective by providing formal certification for online student work. The start-up mainly provides learning in computer and technical skills. It streams Stanford classes to more than 100000 members and also partners with a network of companies to feed its graduates into full time positions. As the start up provides accreditation, it serves as a good choice for students.
Websites like Khan Academy are also working on data and personalization, given the number of students in a class. Not only does the website provide free video tutorials covering wide topics such as Biology and Art History, it analyses an individual’s performance and provides recommendations and feedback. Thus this resource (accessible through Intel’s AppUp store) proves to be an excellent free tutoring facility for K-12 students and even gives instructors a chance to see how their classes are doing.
Voxy , an innovative language learning app provides you a learning experience unlike any other. It enables location based learning and transforms simple every day interactions into learning tools. The recent move toward the development of mobile apps has made that possible. If you check into a bar, for example, it will suggest a lesson on ordering drinks; take a picture of your drink and the app will create an audio flash card of the word. However, when you do feel the necessity of a tutor, it even connects you through video chat to one.
Lastly, at LearnZillion , teachers become the students. Through sharing of lesson plans and approaches to the teaching of difficult concepts, teachers can hugely benefit in the virtual world as well. Additionally, one can upload videos of their classes and comment on pedagogy or struggling moments while teaching. Thus online experience for teachers is leveraged from sharing of information to sharing of practices.
Given the huge variety of resources made available through tech-abled education, wouldn’t you agree that education technology is fundamentally a productive addition to our traditional practices? Contrary to popular opinion that EdTech would replace traditional practices, it is only refining and tailoring learning in accordance with the needs of our times.