Using Technology to Change Education

Innovation that is occurring in the field of technology is bringing with it notions about how these new ideas can be applied in the field of education. From changes in the way information is imparted to the way that classes are held, innovation in the education field is beginning to emerge. The changes are incremental but worth taking a look at.

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One of the ways that technology is changing the education landscape is by using what is called the “flipped classroom” model. In the traditional classroom, teachers talk about the subject matter that is being covered and the students take notes. At the end of the class, homework is assigned for students to complete on their own. The flipped classroom changes this approach. Students watch lectures or explore materials that take the place of the classroom lecture, but they do this at home, before coming into the classroom. Once inside the class, they can bring questions about any concepts that they did not understand to the teacher for assistance. This allows both teacher and student to spend time mastering subjects instead of just completing homework.

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Another area that takes advantage of the video lecture is the Massive Online Open Course or MOOC. These free, public courses have been around for a few years, but they are beginning to expand into more than just providing content. As Daphne Koller of Coursera, a MOOC provider, explains, they are beginning to use data captured from students taking these courses to understand how a student learns. This allows them to build better courseware that can start to anticipate problem areas and provide a learning path to mastery that is almost individually geared to each student.

Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empirical_research#/media/File:Empirical_Cycle.svg

A major experiment in finding the best ways that students learn is the Khan Lab School. Created by the Khan Academy, which is known for free, short and useful videos on a range of subjects, the Lab School is a K-8 school that is experimenting to find the best practices in education. Some of the differences are, “no grades or grade levels,” and, “no traditional homework.” Students work at their own pace, on subjects of interest to them, and they assist one another with problems. The structure of this school is continually reassessed to keep what works and get rid of what does not. Although this is a small, private school, the information that is gathered here is not meant for this school alone. The overarching idea and one that is already being put into practice, is to share these best practices with schools and educators everywhere. The blend of technology with alternative learning practices might “liberate” the education model.

There are downsides to each of these approaches. For the flipped classroom, there are time constraints for teachers creating content (at least initially) and not all students have access to the technology needed. The gathering and application of data from the MOOCs does not seem to have a trigger that knows when humans need to intervene in the learning process. And the children who currently attend the Lab School are all from well-off families, which may hamper the ability of best practices to be built which cover the economic spectrum.

Regardless of the shortcomings, all of these areas are places where how we educate students is being questioned, examined and changed. Changed in small ways, but changed nonetheless. There are many other areas and other technologies that are being investigated to see what changes technology brings to education. Education is in need of an overhaul, but there is no silver bullet that will fix it all.

References

Daphne Koller: What we’re learning from online education [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/daphne_koller_what_we_re_learning_from_online_education?language=en

Jones, G. (2016, June 27). What are flipped classrooms? Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/flipped-classrooms-2/

Westervelt, E. (n.d.). How Khan academy’s founder designs a brick and mortar school for kids. Retrieved from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/07/01/how-khan-academys-founder-designs-a-brick-and-mortar-school-for-kids/

References for Media:

Graphic of Flipped Classroom retrieved from: https://c5.staticflickr.com/4/3690/10003652796_2883b37ff2_z.jpg

Graphic of Student and Classroom retrieved from: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/1/2661943_778d013de5_m.jpg

Graphic of Cycle retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empirical_research#/media/File:Empirical_Cycle.svg