Online education is growing rapidly. Creating innovative online learning programs has become easier with advances in technology and the availability of various software tools that let us create engaging interactive, even 3D applications. Educators have been examining and grappling for the past few years on how to create learning opportunities for children in attempts to mirror the same enthusiasm and engagement most kids demonstrate in gaming. How do we transfer media and gaming into the school environment? How can we make learning fun?
These are times of transition. Computing power is growing exponentially and is getting cheaper. In a few decades laptops will have the computing capacity of a human. We know that we will have enormous computing power, so how are we going to use it in education?
SVForum held the first education conference in Palo Alto on October 21 in a discussion on the future of education and the role of technology in shaping it. This past decade, several business models have emerged and entrepreneurs, along with investors, are taking this opportunity to innovate the learning space.
Through a series of panel discussions academic leaders, education experts, and entrepreneurs talked about education, in particular the K-12 schooling. Panelists said that to design a good, effective and sustainable technology-based education system, all the stakeholders need to be involved. At the same time, we need to learn more about the process of learning. Panelists noted that there is a growing sense of collaboration of all the stakeholders: parents, educators, teachers, students, and several policy makers.
Read more about the Convergence of technology and education: how to use technology effectively in learning.
Dr. Paul Kim, CTO and Assistant Dean for Stanford University School of Education, talked about the education ecosystem and the big picture of education. Dr. Kim’s courses at Stanford focus on contextualized innovations in education, mobile empowerment design, and enterprising higher education systems. He is a senior researcher for Programmable Open Mobile Internet project (of the National Science Foundation), which develops and evaluates wireless mobile computing and interactive systems for K-20 students. He said that we usually have barriers to educational innovation due to historical and cultural concepts in American society, where people think that schools need to provide education in a certain way, that learning is achieved through set molds, and therefore resist other, untraditional, learning models. For example, Dr. Kim said that presenting students with computers is not enough, as the role of the teacher needs to be redefined, too. Providing quality content and programs for learning through computer usage coupled with apt teachers’ training is key.
Several panelists reiterated the need to look at education as a whole and not just address specific issues. In urban communities in the US, about 50% of high school students graduate. Furthermore, community colleges report that they need to assign remedial courses to new students, before the students can move into the college level curriculum. Most of the traditional American education system was designed over 50 years ago and addressed the society needs then, but not the 21st century. Recognizing that technology is a underlying element in how kids will learn and grow in the modern society is fundamental. We need to examine how to incorporate technology and online learning into the traditional schooling systems. People tend to look at education from a fractured point of view, where solutions are devised to address certain elements. The presenters often used the phrase “quality education” and that we should refrain from developing and investing in single solutions to silo-problems instead of addressing the entire existing learning models.
Speakers and panelists agreed that technology is just one piece of the education puzzle and is a tool to promote learning and enhance education.
Some of the emerging categories in this space included:
– Broadening the core subjects and providing quality content.
– Technology assisted development and support for educators/teachers.
– Gamifying – using game-like learning programs.
In the past the education system was focused on measuring results, which have driven regulation and shaped the system, as we know it today. The education market is evolving although it is still bound by the models of the ‘old’ approach. Practical solutions in education cross into the political arena, however, working together and addressing the pieces and the sum of the components, will bring good and comprehensive ideas along with the ‘right’ products to deliver. There are beginnings of mold breaking, as we try to move into systems that reward learning and the process of learning through a focus on the input, not output (i.e. grades). We need entrepreneurs to help change that!
SVForum is a non-profit member-based organization in the San Francisco Bay Area. SVForum fosters innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership in the Silicon Valley, California ecosystem of individuals, businesses, and other organizations participating in emerging technologies.
Check SVForum’s website for events, membership, and additional information at www.svforum.org