We are on the verge of radical shifts in our education systems, and not everyone will be happy to see them develop.
The pace of change mandates that we produce a faster, smarter, better grade of human being. Current systems are preventing that from happening. Future education systems will be unleashed with the advent of a standardized rapid courseware-builder and a single-point global distribution system. In the future, we predict students entering the workforce will be ten times smarter than they are today.
Once a rapid courseware-builder has been created, and the general marketplace has put its stamp of approval on it, a series of standards will be developed.
With tools for producing courseware becoming widely available, people around the world will begin creating it, and we will see a courseware explosion similar to the dramatic rise of content on YouTube and iTunes.
As part of the rapidly developing courseware movement we will see education transition from:
- Teacher-centric to learning-centric
- Classroom-based teaching to anyplace, anytime learning
- Mandated courses to hyper-individualized learning
- A general population of consumers to a growing population of producers
As a result of this shift we will begin to see dramatic changes in society. The speed of learning will increase tenfold because of a combination of the following factors:
- Confidence-based learning will significantly increase learning speed and comprehension
- Learning what we want, when we want – shifting away from a prescribed course agenda to one that is hyper-individualized, self-selected, and scheduled whenever a student wishes to take it will dramatically change levels of motivation
- Technology improvements over time will continually improve the speed and comprehension of learning
The speed of learning will increase tenfold, and it is possible that the equivalent of our current K-12 education system will be compressed into as little as one year’s worth of learning. (emphasis my own).
Note : This series on The Future of Education includes, as a starter, re-written pieces from Thomas Frey’s research which can be found in its original context here. My role is to synthesize my understanding of the information I have magnetized based on my intuition of the shape of things to come.I have simplified Thomas Frey’s essays while lifting liberally from it for the sake of non-native speakers and future translation purposes. For the original context please refer to his website.
I will pick up from the part where learning will not be an exams-based learning but on confidence-based learning.
Future Learning System
Out of 12 critical dimensions to future learning systems, only 2 need to be in place for the learning revolution to begin.
- a standardized architecture for developing courseware unit
- an organic distribution system that allows anyone to access it.
My note : For those of you who are not familiar with Content Learning Management Systems, they have been around for some time and the community has learned from the trial and error of earlier adopters. For one, we realize that the stand-alone Learning Management System, where people go to a central location for “training or learning” is not going to work.
Companies like Microsoft and Cisco are working with on both sides, mining educators’ experience on the classroom and learning experience while working with game developers (who seem to know more about how young people learn) to come up with ideas on user experience. Authoring tools for Content Learning Management systems are becoming relatively easy to use and visually attractive course-ware templates are getting not only better but more affordable. In taking into account Moore’s Law, the roll-out of a good selection of acceptable quality and ease-of-use courseware authoring tools seem to be in the horizon.
Standard Courseware Unit
A standard courseware unit needs to be in place so that people don’t get confused with the varying levels on offer. What’s a standard courseware going to look like?
An authoring tool much like a registration sign-up for any website. The author fills in attributes that can be used to aggregate results, manage responses, etc. The courseware builder will carefully step courseware producers through the design, build, and launch phases of each course. Each unit would be approximately 60 minutes. The standard courseware will include all available multimedia to accommodate different styles of learning from text to speech to audio, video, etc. and some courses will be sequenced in order to build a scaffolding of learning necessary for future courses. Courseware prices will be kept low so that there is no barrier to entry, as low as 99 cents per module or to the lowest price a provider can bear. Some more highly specialized topics would probably cost a bit more.
Users will be tested along the way to see if they had confidently mastered the objectives of the learning. A threshold will be set so that if a student fails to comprehend a certain part, the courseware will return the learner to that part until they achieve mastery.
In order to increase the courseware’s intuition of how best a learner learns, it will collate feedback which will continually expand the profile of the student throughout their life, recalibrating topical interest levels, building a comprehensive understanding of the individual student as they evolve over time.
Learners will use tags to describe their learning experience, pretty much like how we’re rating blogs and videos and commenting on them. This feedback allows the author to better intuit the needs and styles of learners out there and assimilating this new info more creatively into the next courseware. This virtuous circle (analyctics report?) will help both Author and Machine to collaborate with learners to improve the design and delivery of learning in a sort of osmosis. Learners will help Authors understand what works for them and what doesn’t and through ratings Authors will get an idea which elements appeal more to their audience.
This tagging system not only helps authors and learners evolve through a symbiotic relationship but helps to recommend other courses that would interest the learner. Competency isn’t measured based on grades but the width and breadth of a person’s knowledge in the topic (equivalent to a 6th grader or a BA program). Over time, the systems for illustrating achievement will change with the use of charts and graphs to explain the breadth and depth of a person’s understanding.
If you recall, competency is measured based on equivalency to.The ability to participate in such a learning will not depend on age. As long as basic motor skills are in place, anyone can take these courses so it is assumed that even very young children can learn from the width and breadth of available coursewares.
The important skills determining the speed and depth of learning will be :
- reading ability a
- ability to follow directons
- ability to respond to questions
New systems will need to be created to assess the overall readiness of a young student to participate.
The After Effects
We are on the verge of radical shifts in our education systems, and not everyone will be happy to see them develop. We see home schoolers and foreign students as being some of the earliest adopters, followed by private schools and charter schools, and later public schools. Initially these courses will be used to supplement traditional classroom-based courses, but will later develop into a complete learning curriculum.
My note : This goes back to the first part where Thomas Frey suggests that the radical changes will come largely from forces outside of the existing schooling system. A point I had made in a different blog (link later) explains why it is not necessary to get angry at what the government is not doing.
Any ruling government will not risk causing an economic domino effect nor risk a premature agitation of the fabric of society by sacking the thousands of teachers belonging to a union who have benefited from this old system. Among these teachers, a small percentage of the most dedicated and talented of them from around the world can be absorbed by courseware publishing companies, the work of a handful of teachers and researches having a platform to collaborate and produce learning that is scalable and available to thousands more around the world.
These talented individuals are the same people stifled and disheartened by the current system; these hopeful, talented teachers are the losers in the old system. I completely agree with the idea that those who have benefited by taking salaries paid by taxpayers’ dollars only to squander our children’s potentials should be turned out into the streets. In Malaysia, teachers who are mentally unstable and who physically abuse children are allowed to destroy the psychic and emotional health of our children and taking our dollars doing that. Personally, I would like to see untalented, uninspiring, unintelligent teachers turned out in the streets, not for any other reason but for the fact that they are getting in the way of young people finding better models for leadership, ethics, intelligence and empathy.
If only these teachers are sacked, young people’s imagination would be free to discover caring, responsible adults who are more than ready to be participants in a collaborate effort to pass down the best of our knowledge and skills to them, restoring their faith in themselves and in the purpose of life and awakening in them a desire to take proper stewardship of their future.
We will go through an explosive growth of learning camps. Many kinds of learning are best achieved through hands-on touch and feeling experiences. Marine biology is best learned through working with marine life in all its many forms. The best way to learn history is to travel to the battlefields, take tours of the castles, walk through the ancient ruins, dress up in the ancient clothing, and sleep overnight in a wigwam or cliff dwelling. The best way to become a plumber is to work with a skilled plumber and perform hands-on work-related tasks to fix real world plumbing problems.
Learning camps, ranging from one-day camps to multi-week camps, will begin to proliferate around specific topics. Some camps will be more academic-related areas of study such as math and science, while others will deal with more skill-related topics like woodworking or auto repair. Each camp will have its own identity, use its own in-house experts, and will focus on a specific learning experience that is tied to courseware with a built-in testing system to validate competency.
Learning camps are only a partial answer to the social context of learning.
My note : I foresee unschooling families chipping in to provide a building equipped with resources where young people are free to learn at their own pace and develop ideas and collaborations under the supervision of caring adults. Some of the best models of Sunday schools and youth leadership groups are already demonstrating some aspects of this and it is just a matter of time and a bit of imagination to incorporate it into a legitimate learning paradigm.
Thinking through the transition.
Students will be the quickest to adapt to this new system. Instead of being forced to learn specific courses that are often of little interest to them, students will be free to select the topics that they are most interested in.
Most students will have the opportunity to travel to various learning camps around the country (and around the world. considering the fact that airfare is becoming ‘almost free’). As more and more students begin using the system, the demand for new courses will cause more and more people to develop courseware.
Some school buildings will transition into learning centers that are open 24 hours a day, accommodating both child and adult learners, providing support staff to assist people who struggle with the system or on a specific topic.Other school buildings, or portions of buildings, will transition into production centers filled with the tools and equipment for people to produce new courseware. Staff people will also be on hand to assist in courseware design and creation.
Good news for good teachers.
Ethical and empathetic adults can serve in their capacity as guides, coaches, and tutors for students needing help. Others will become event planners and experience designers as the social side of learning is also important.
Some teachers will develop their own camps or series of camps specializing in a specific experiential topic tied to certain courseware. These teachers will effectively operate their own enterprise with revenues driven by the number of students opting to go to their camp. Some of the more entrepreneurial-minded teachers may choose to become full-time courseware producers. The techniques for creating good and effective new courseware will be an iterative process going through multiple evolutionary stages as new and better tools become available.
(Remember, all this would not be so complicated because the social media platforms are already in place which can retrieve user ratings and reviews of each camp/courseware experience. This would not be easily manipulated by the camp providers as those search platforms and criterion will be owned by Google/Twitter/Facebook like platforms. If you read Eric Qualman’s Socialnomics and Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody you will be able to see how marketing and reach will be shaped by social media.)
Who’s footing the bill?
Well, we can’t simultaneously be paying taxes to both support the salaries and retirements of teachers and administrators while paying for coursewares, community resource centers and camps.
Thomas Frey : Initially people will pay for their own courses, or the courses completed by their children. Later, systems for grants and loans will allow a broader range of students to participate. Eventually government money will begin to shift and cover student expenses.
Existing streams of funding for school district will not go away, but will be scaled to appropriate levels for staffing and maintaining buildings as each phase of the transition takes place.