REIMAGINING SCHOOLING

On Christmas Day in 1990, a world-changing event took place. Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist, unveiled the World Wide Web – introducing a phenomenon that would change the way we live, work and interact forever.    The Internet rattled the status quo and ushered in an era of unprecedented development. The resultant innovations disrupted and continue to radically impact process in many industries.

In 1994, Amazon.com disrupted the retail shopping industry to the extent that a store is no longer a building or a destination.  Consumers can now shop online anywhere, anytime for almost anything!

In 2008, Airbnb launched a digital platform that transformed the way travellers plan trips and make reservations for accommodation.  Airbnb has been valued at US$3.4 billion without owning a single hospitality establishment! The hospitality and accommodation industry will never be the same again.

And then there is Uber.  By creating an on-demand taxi service accessible via a mobile phone app, Uber changed the way that people move!  Operating in over 450 cities, the company has over 40 million active, monthly subscribers and it manages over one million rides per day…without owning a single taxi!

In 2012, Udacity disrupted tertiary education by offering free online courses and more recently, nano-degrees. Professor Sebastian Thrun resigned from his position at Stanford University to pursue the Udacity model.  As of June 2016, Udacity has 4 million users in 12 full courses and 26 free course offerings.

The internet was the catalyst for innovation, disruption and change.  As technology develops exponentially we must anticipate continued impact and disruption. We are living in the technology revolution! Industries that fail to adapt, face the serious consequence of extinction.

WHERE DOES THIS PUT EDUCATION AND WHAT ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES?

Many private organisations are working to leverage the opportunity of delivering affordable mass education through new age technology.  At a tertiary level, significant change is evident.  However, in order to truly disrupt the status quo of education, society needs to consider the current model of delivery of education to school going learners.   Schooling has been delivered using the classroom – teacher model for more than 150 years.  Does this very model present any real barriers to significant impact and progress?  Could this model be the root cause of a lack of break through and even stagnation in terms of developing and implementing innovative delivery systems within schools? Should we be reimagining the operating model of schools in order to make way for exponential development?

It is also vital to recognise that education is not primarily about earning a matric certificate.  Many high school graduates leave school with little or no idea of who they are or what they are meant to do.  Education is about teaching children how to live, not simply how to make a living.  The development of solid values and character development must be emphasised and intentionally included on a daily basis as an integral part of the education process.

Accelerated Education Enterprises (AEE) is committed to the upliftment of Africa through education.  The organisation is excited about the possibilities presented by technology.  In addition, AEE has identified that the Personalised System of Instruction (PSI) is a progressive model that enhances learning and it breaks down the barriers presented by the classroom-teacher model.  The well-researched methodology of a personalised system of instruction (PSI) (Keller 1968) creates opportunities for a learner to work in an individualised self-paced manner that embraces discovery learning and mastery.   Discovery learning requires the learner to engage with material in different formats in order to learn and acquire knowledge.  This active role in the process minimises the need for teacher intervention and importantly it heightens the opportunity for break through using technology – something AEE embraces!

AEE is confident that the PSI provides a compelling model that could positively impact schooling in South Africa and many developing countries.   As society adapts to, and embraces the opportunity of e-learning we need to be sure that schools are structured in such a way that blended learning can be implemented and maximised. It seems that the tidal wave of technology meets some resistance at the entrenched classroom-teacher model of schooling.  In contrast, a PSI model offers the flexibility and personalisation that can support and enhance innovations in schooling.

There is no doubt that technology will continue to impact the education environment.  Society has a choice to make.  We can choose to  be strategic and visionary, ensuring that the technology revolution has the best possible impact on education…or we can stick to schooling as usual and possibly miss out on an enormous opportunity.

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