Digital education is today where digital music was in 2001. The digital music revolution started unintended when peer-to-peer file service “Napster” started by Sean Parker & Shawn Fanning in 1999 controversially morphed into a digital music sharing service.
It became mainstream with the highly successful launches of the Apple iPod & iTunes in 2001 and now services like Spotify are taking it to next level by integrating it to our increasingly digital lifestyle. As is the case of all life-changing trends, an unintended start changed the whole experience of buying and consuming music.
I enjoy being part of the generation caught in between a massive revolution (Digital Immigrants – Digital Natives). It is fascinating to see how technology is becoming so pervasive that it is re-disrupting cultures all over again. As in the case of digital music, the most fundamental driving force to this change is the Internet. The Internet has fundamentally boosted our ability to access and share knowledge.
The Internet has allowed us to re-imagine everything from reading a book to digesting the news to taking notes. Quite fittingly, the next big trend is going to be the disruption of education.
There’s been a long-time joke in education: if Rip Van Winkle woke up today, he’d be puzzled by just about every aspect of modern life–from planes to tablets –but he’d feel right at home in many classrooms. Now that’s starting to change in a big way.
Education has two challenges: access and effectiveness. It all started relatively quietly with Bill Gates’ favorite teacher Salman Khan’s YouTube channel, followed by highly successful “A.I. Class” experiment of Stanford University where over 160,000 enrolled from 190 countries. Here are a few other disruptive things happening right now that will changed education as we know it.
At the forefront we have Udacity, EdX, and Coursera (the “Big Three?”) that work with leading American universities to offer free online courses known as Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOC’s. Just in matter of months they have reached two million registered students from roughly over 200 countries. Students in MOOC’s typically watch short video lectures, complete automatically graded tests or assignments, and use online communities to work through concepts they don’t understand. MOOC’s mission is to make the world’s best academic programs accessible to masses for free.
Led by 2tor, known to be most-funded education startup, there are hosts of private technology companies are on the mission of taking campuses online. They work with physical campuses to convert the courses offered in digital format so that they can be delivered online. They offer to reduce the cost of education and make the universities universally accessible.
Led by Edmodo, Schoology and Lore this is the most active space. The idea here is to apply modern social web technology to enhance effectiveness and management of in campus delivery of education. Most of these products have seen very large-scale adoption in the recent past and some of these are on the way to emerge as the integral part of formal education.
To me these initiatives will drive in some very fundamental change in the education. In addition to these there is a lot more happening, which I shall cover in subsequent articles. The fact is the Web’s infrastructure is built, the platforms have emerged, everyone is connected on social networks and open education resources are available everywhere; we now need to connect the dots and create a meaningful digital learning ecosystem in a way that augurs well with the digital life style of today’s learner.