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It’s time educators change how they educate

Samiran Ghosh, CIO for Asia of Dun & Bradstreet | Jan. 7, 2016
Samiran Ghosh of Dun & Bradstreet shares his thoughts on how schools need to change their education models to provide an effective learning experience.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

The modern day classroom is a 300-year-old legacy of the British Empire. In fact, if one were to look at classroom constructs even in prestigious universities such as MIT, not much has changed in the past 60 to 70 years in terms of the pedagogy of teaching.

The only possibly innovative thing we need is to introduce the concept of distance learning into our teaching systems. Sir Isaac Pitman started that with shorthand class through correspondence while the University of London started the first degrees through long distance.

And we have been able to marry the two methodologies -- classroom and distance learning model -- beautifully in the current times.

classroom nigeria

The picture above shows a class in progress at a university in Nigeria sometime in 2013. Based on any accepted definition of the term "distance learning", I would wager that the students sitting on the back of the class (and especially the chap in the circle) are undergoing distance learning albeit in a classroom.

The distance between the last bench and the teacher in a huge class in Africa is the same as the distance between that student and a professor teaching a class at MIT in the virtual world. The entire construct of learning and distance education has been undergoing a change thanks to the ever lowering cost of connectivity and access to the internet. There has been more innovation in the distributed education space in the last 10 years than in the convention classroom delivery model in the past 300 years. Advances in technology have made it possible for us to deliver education in an innovative manner.

The Khan Academy is being used as a means to tutor children at home with classes as a practical application platform. edX and Coursera point to a changing paradigm in education -- a free quality product available anywhere, anytime and for anyone . SugataMitra's "Hole in the Wall" experiment teaches us that when children are left alone with technology, they will learn on their own. This somewhat addresses the one big deficiency in the education system: the lack of good teachers. Using the online, anywhere and always available channel, teachers have the ability to reach students in places and in numbers hitherto thought not possible. And students in turn are able to get quality education at their pace from the best teachers sitting in the comfort of their own surroundings.

Strangely enough, massive open online courses (MOOC) have gained significant traction with the older working population. They like it because it has a "learn at your own pace" philosophy, as well as spares them the embarrassment of sitting in classroom with much younger people without the same ability to match their learning curve.


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