Technology is creating a number of fundamental changes to the education sector. It is changing the delivery of education, enabling greater access and improving the level of student engagement. Here we provide a broad overview of three technology trends that are transforming education as Native Tongue sees it.
1. Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)
Kaggle (Tech 23 Alumni) held a worldwide competition to find the best algorithm for grading short answer questions in exams. The winner from Kaggle was Luis Tandalla, a University of New Orleans senior who took free online classes on Coursera on artificial intelligence and machine learning. The second and third place runner up, had also enrolled in the same online course. Those courses were provided by the founder of Coursera, Andrew Ng, who is also a lecturer on artificial intelligence at Stanford University.
This particular course has over 100,000 people enrolled. Andrew Ng believes that it would have taken him 250 years to deliver this same course to all the people enrolled. Technology has enabled Ng’s lessons to be scaled exponentially.
Coursera, which has raised $16 million in venture funding, is one of several massive open online courses (“MOOC”). Other learning platforms include Udacity, edX, Minerva, and Open Learning from Australia. These platforms partner with top universities such as MIT, Harvard, Duke, and UNSW. MOOC is pioneering a revolution where world-class education is free, open and accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
2. Blended learning
One of the most popular channels on Youtube is Khan Academy. It is a series of free videos on maths, science and history lectures, narrated by Salman Khan an ex-hedge fund analyst and a graduate of MIT and Harvard. At the time of writing, it has amassed 200 million views across its educational videos. Teachers are also using the Khan Academy videos in their lessons. The students watch the Khan lectures remotely and do homework offline in the classroom.
This is known as flipped teaching, which is a form of blended learning. It has revolutionised some classrooms, where, instead of the teacher delivering lectures to the class, the classroom environment has been “flipped” as the student independently learns and the teacher provides assistance with homework and answers questions.
Blended learning occurs when a student utilises partial learning via traditional teaching in a physical space and through online delivery of education materials where they can have some level of control (e.g. timing, difficulty, pace, place). This trend continues to grow and it is estimated that by 2014, 50% of post secondary education will take one class online.
Ananth Pai is a 3rd grade teacher in Maplewood, Minnesota. He realised that his class was not paying attention and something drastic needed to be done. He decided to introduce Nintendo DS game consoles into the classrooms and a game-based curriculum for maths, reading, vocabulary and geography. The students played games such as Maths Blaster for multiplication and Brain Age 2, a word scramble game. After 18 weeks of introducing this new program, the class had progressed from a below 3rd grade level to mid 4th grade level. The games were able to engage students due to their interactive game format and provided a more fun way to learn educational content.
Gamification is a growing trend in education, where game structures and game play is used for teaching. It is not surprising given that, in countries with strong gamer cultures, the average child plays about 10,000 hours of video games. Games are a medium that students are familiar with. Video games and mobile games can assist with increasing student engagement as they provide unique learning structures. They encourage players to acquire new skills through incentives and reward mechanisms.
These are some of the broader technological trends that are changing education. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. US venture capitalist Marc Andreessen wrote in his op-ed that he believes that education, a sector that has been traditionally resistant to change, is primed to be transformed by software and software centric-entrepreneurs.
In 2012, presenting at Tech23 were 3 innovative education companies. Smart Sparrow is creating adaptive e-learning. Jelly Music is making music education more interactive. Native Tongue has arcade games for language learning. As more technology entrepreneurs enter this sector and as educators adopt new technology, education will continue to be fundamentally transformed.