Since the 1960s, when celebrated teacher Frank McCourt taught in New York, education at the secondary and higher levels has come a long way. From the humble chalk board to the smart board and the Internet, students today have much more by way of access to resources and knowedge. Despite the changes, challenges to teaching remain. High school graduation rates remain a big concern, so is the learning gap among students. We can say that almost all of the "revolutions" in education have been in the realm of technology and educpation delivery. I believe there is hope: innovations which blend technology and some "smart thinking" can help us meet these challenges. Here are a few innovations which are reshaping education:
1. New metrics to measure performance:
Companies such as Civitas Learning are at the forefront of measuring the metrics that should be measured for performance improvement. While churning out graduates is one of the ways schools define their success, their post-graduation performance shows how well/badly they performed. This boils down to what metrics are being used to measure perform. A closer look at this is crucial for understanding performance and long-term impact of education.
2. Social networking in Education:
Some companies such as Udacity and Udemy are using Facebook like formats to let students learn from each other, this peer-to-peer learning may be a new model of learning and teaching.
3. MOOCS and the emergence of the digital tutor:
This story of Massive Open Online Courses has been told by virtually every media outlet and despite some criticism, they seem to be here for the long-term and will obviously evolve into something more mature and stable in the years to come.
4. Philanthropy in Education:
As the funding streams change and a new slew of tech-entrepreneurs and firms enter the market, the field of education is witnessing a new paradigm, as this article points out. The U.S. government (Department of Education) has outlined a strategic direction, which includes setting up an ARPA-ED for Education, thus making it a high priority and research area. The coming together of the public, private and the non-profit sector to address the challenges of education sector is quite interesting and unique. A $90 million commitment from the president is a sure sign of his administration being serious!
5. Mobile based learning:
Companies such as Mango Learning have launched Mobile phone apps that teach math, science and other subjects through interactivity and games. This is also emerging as a trend to watch out for.
But despite all the technological innovations and advancements, teaching still remains a very "human" activity, and as McCourt points out:
"What I learned then was the main device, if you want to call it that for a successful teacher, was honesty." It is inone-on-one interaction that learning occurs best.
In the absence of this, perhaps technology may be our best bet.