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Changing the educational paradigm

Kids can study online, are taught by robots or become teachers themselves; will teachers become obsolete in the coming decades? Education of all kinds of levels is going digital and global. The Internet is key: from teaching each other how to successfully complete a game by means of a walk-through video, to Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) which allow you to enroll in a Cambridge course from your living room. What’s happening in the field of education & innovation?

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In the TIS video archive, there’s quite a few educational experts discussing the current form of education and the way they think it should change. Take for example Madhav Chavan who states that technological innovations are non-linear, and therefore don’t easily match with the linear world of education. Or Sir Ken Robinson who explains the reasons why all counties all over the world are – and should be – reforming their educational system. Or Clayton Christensen who discusses disruption in higher education.

But speaking of change is one thing, it’s also good to look at how some countries have already adapted new models of education. What comes to mind is this documentary about the current secondary school system in Finland which has consistently ranked among the best in the world. After that, take a look at how the design of this Japanese kindergarten teaches children at a very young age they have to investigate the world around them.

Technology in education

Although there’s a lot to be said of kids spending too much times indoors, you must agree that if it’s for an educational purpose, it’s all the better! Innovative technology such as augmented reality and virtual reality makes education more entertaining, immersive, and yes, simply better! And don’t rule out the important role the Internet has and will play in education. Listen to the positive thoughts from famous podcaster CGP Grey on the Internet-based future of education, the so-called Digital Aristotle. Or what if books and articles have a direct link to the Internet and similar content. That’s why the concept designers of IDEO have come up with different ideas for the future of the book.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

MOOCs are online (university) courses people from all over the world can join, because you can follow them remotely and course materials are spread via the Internet. According to Wikipedia there were several predecessors, but the biggest success came with the introduction Coursera (23 million users in 2016!). In this video co-founder Daphne Koller explains why they’ve started. If you’re not convinced about the success of MOOCs and how they can democratize education, listen to this news item explaining how they are changing traditional education.

Other types of MOOCs are:

  • P2PU, which focuses on peer-to-peer learning and could be seen as quite informal as anyone can teach anyone about almost anything;
  • Knewton, which focuses on providing personalized educational content in the STEM fields;
  • Udemy, a market place where everyone can make and sell online courses;
  • Shikkhok, which is building a low-cost crowdsourced MOOC for 200 million native Bengali speakers, who are not fluent in English.


Make way for tablets

If there’s one item that’s been on the march in education worldwide, it’s the tablet. They are relatively cheap, portable, can hold an enormous amount of information and games and connects to the internet. See what they can do for little Mozamel from a desert in Sudan, a country ridden by droughts, poverty and wars. They are also part of the Kio Kit by BRCK which proclaims to offer a digital classroom in a box. However, think about your strategy before you roll out tablets in a rural area with no, or little access to computers says Nivi Mukherjee from eLimu. Her company helps primary school children learn by means of tablets, incorporating the element of play.

3D, virtual reality and augmented reality in education

3D, virtual reality and augmented reality are not new, but the technologies behind them become better and better. Some have reached the general public, think of 3D cinema’s, Pokémon Go and Snapchat, others like virtual reality gaming still need some time. Not that people don’t like it, but because it’s quite expensive still.

How can these technologies be used for education? Well, it becomes more immersive and realistic, that’s for sure. How about regular lessons with an extra dimension, these high school students have classes in 3D! In this video, the staff of the Ormiston Shelfield Community Academy explains why they’ve chosen for 3D-technology and how their incorporate it in their lessons. The lessons are supported by Gaia Technologies, which are also known for their 3D model heart, which you can turn all ways.

Also look at Microsoft HoloLens who has partnered with Case Western Reserve University to provide anatomy classes in augmented reality and see the body and its functions from a whole new perspective. And don’t forget about these Immersive biology lessons for high school students with the Body VR and 3D4Medical that develops apps for the study of anatomy combining 3D imagery, virtual reality and augmented reality.

Robots in the classroom and home schooling

Coming from a time in which Pokémon was still a card game and phones were absent in the classes, it’s amazing to the technology most classrooms are stacked with nowadays. Some even have robots! It’s good to see the traditional LEGO has stepped up its game and has introduced several packages with a programmable block that help kids with their first steps in coding: WeDo2.0, Mindstorms and Boost (all aimed at their own age category and with a different purpose).

Other companies have also introduced their small robots meant for educational play at home: the wooden toy Cubetto robot from Primotoys which comes with its own ‘coding board’ and the cute Dash & Dot robots from Wonder Workshop that each have their own purpose and can be controlled via your mobile devices.

Another cool initiative to spark interest in coding among small children, is the BBC micro:bit. This pocket-sized codeable computer with motion detection, a built-in compass and Bluetooth, was given out to 1 million British over the course of 2015.

And the last cool robot we have to mention, is the EPFL CoWriter robot. This is a product of the CoWriter Project from the Computer-Human Interaction Lab for Learning & Instruction (CHILI) and looks into the acquisition of handwriting skills. In learning by teaching the child builds self-esteem and makes itself reflect on their own errors when writing.

Social innovation in education

There has been a lot of progress around the world, not just in tools, but also in teaching methods. Every year, the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) hands out awards for innovative ways of thinking in education. It’s definitely worth watching a few of these miniclips below:

  • Al Bairaq provides hands-on-science education for secondary school students in Qatar and aims to stimulate local interest in STEM;
  • Videobooks is aimed at deaf people and tells commonly known stories in written Spanish and Argentine sign language along with a voice-over;
  • The Ideas Box is a mobile education unit consisting of compact media centers with laptops/cameras/books/games to support refugees;
  • Geekie is a personalized learning program for Brazilian students who take the ENEM exams. It uses an e-platform with customizable lessons;
  • Tara Akshar works to reduce high rates of adult illiteracy among Indian women, through a computerized program that uses the Laubach method.


Must watch

And last but not least, here are a few videos we couldn’t put in any other category, but are most definitely interested, touching or funny.

  • Charles Best of DonorsChoose is a history teacher who became an entrepreneur. His platform is a crowdfunding website which lets teachers gain some extra money for that class trip, much needed book or video;
  • Tim Ferriss (from the 4-Hour Workweek) has developed his own vision and method on how to master new skills. In this video he discusses how you can deconst the learning process;
  • Tina Seelig is Stanford’s Executive Director in the Technology Venture Program. She’s has come up with the innovation challenge which aims to stimulate the creativity of future entrepreneurs;
  • Thimble teaches beginners a basic understanding of building electronics through a monthly subscription kit with carefully curated instructions.

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