Education and learning is clearly in transformation, you already knew that. This transformation takes many shapes, but at the core of it is the transition from analog to digital, from print to online.
Upcoming disruptions always generate hype and overkill. You have these snake oil salesmen painting pictures of the future. Pictures where everything will be different. In reality, things often change slowly and stealthily. There is a tipping point, but it can often be identified only post hoc, when things have already changed.
For institutional learning to complete this transformation, many pieces are still needed to complete the puzzle. Both teachers and pupils/students should have proper client devices which are maintained and upgraded appropriately. They also need to know how to make the most of these devices and the programs running in them. This calls for both simple UIs and systematic training.
Connectivity and other infrastructure should be seamless not only at school, but at home and preferably also during commute. It should be as reliable and effortless as working with pen, paper, books, and other tangible resources.
Various other things should be addressed too, such as privacy (of underage people), assessment, differentiation, personalization, and cyber-bullying. All of the above are important things to be taken care of, many of them are plain hygiene factors. You simply cannot transform to digital if you don’t have proper devices.
However, sometimes the single most important piece of the puzzle gets ignored: content. Imagine a classroom equipped with superfast internet connection and top notch devices for all pupils. If the pupils and the teacher cannot access relevant digital content, the devices remain secondary.
The base level for digital educational content is that it should address the curriculum. Not only partly, but as well and as completely as the analog content does. However, and this is important: it shouldn’t mimic the analog content to the letter. No, it should make the most of what devices connected to the internet can provide. Think videos, animations, online exercises, adaptive personalization, group work, and learning games to start with.
Finland starts to roll out new K-12 curriculum from fall 2016 onwards. Aligned with this, my expectation and wish for the new year is more and more great digital educational content.
Flickr image CC credits: Mathias Erhart