5 Game-Changing Innovations in Education

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. 

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Sabith Khan

Sabith Khan is a social entrepreneur, researcher and founder of MENASA, a think-tank and policy shop engaged in issues related to MENA and South Asia. Sabith has worked for several years in the field of strategic communications, public affairs and nonprofit management, trying to understand and communicate issues pertaining to civil society, development and youth in the US and MENA region. Sabith has worked with several large global public affairs firms, on award-winning campaigns in healthcare, entertainment and government relations. During his stint at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, he ideated and executed a global award-winning campaign for Apollo Hospitals (Abby and Clio Awards). He has also worked in the Middle East managing accounts as diverse as Dubai Film Festival, Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation, Dubai International Film Festival, Dubai School of Government. Most recently, he served as the Executive Director of Muslim Public Service Network in Washington D.C, an NGO that engages and inspires young American Muslims to do public service. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Planning Governance and Globalization at Virginia Tech. He has been involved as a team member and leader in several international development projects including consulting for the Near East Foundation, in helping set up their Monitoring and Evaluation system for their offices across the MENA region. Sabith has a Master of Public administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. In Summer 2013, he conducted research on American Muslim philanthropy at the Lilly School of Philanthropy, Indianapolis, in an attempt to map giving behavior among Muslims over the last ten years i.e., 2002- 2012. Sabith’s research interests include Religion and Philanthropy, Youth issues in USA, Middle East North Africa and South Asia, Governance and Civil Society. Sabith is also the co-editor of Millennials Speak: Essays on the 21st century, a snapshot of the ideas and opinions of the global Millennial Generation. Twenty writers from five continents, a diverse mix of young academics, policy professionals, and future thought and creative leaders, cover topics from the legacy of the Arab Spring, the global food system, the U.S. student loan crisis, youth unemployment, to popular culture. Currently working: Founder and Executive Director, MENASA Publications: 1. Humanitarian Aid and Faith-Based Giving: The Potential of Muslim Charity - Unrest Magazine, George Mason University. May 2013. Accessible at http://www.unrestmag.com/about-unrest/past-issues/#sthash.GEqNfv0U.dpuf 2. Arab American Diaspora and American Muslim Philanthropy: impact of crisis situations on mobilization and formation of a “community.” American University in Cairo Press. Cairo. (NP). Expected Fall 2013. 3. Middle-East Peace Talks 2010: Investigating the Role of Lobbying and Advocacy Groups in Washington, D.C. as Spoilers. Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Spring 2011. Accessible at : http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/parcc/Research/intrastate/Spoilers_of_Peace_Project/ Blog: www.sabithkhan.wordpress.com

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