I remember when my son had his high school group projects 5-6 years ago, the house used to be filled with his friends who crammed into his room to complete the project in multiple sittings. Some did group discussions, some online research, some drew, some wrote or printed… Of course during these project sessions, the snack jar and soda consumption would invariably increase…
Having lived through that era, the same group project syndrome has started again this year with my daughter now in high school. Interestingly, the difference is that this time the collaboration is virtual. Google docs, Skype video and Facebook chat are in, cramming into a room is out. We are living in an age of rapid technology evolution which is changing the way children study, collaborate and build their personalities. The digital world is their second nature, collaboration their first.
We are seeing the beginning of how technology impacts and will change our education system. Its rapid infusion is fundamentally driving the change across educational content creation, distribution and instruction methods. Content creation is no longer limited to a few authors or publishing houses. It has adopted a crowd sourcing model where anyone with expertise in any subject is capable of creating written or multimedia content and publishing it on the internet. It has become a great source of supplemental knowledge in addition to what is taught via traditional methods in school. The very genesis of Khan Academy lies in the model, which is expected to revolutionize the education sector by creating a virtual schooling system which is free. The potential of this model is evident in Khan Academy’s video library with 3,500 videos on various topics such as math, science, humanities, finance, economics and more. They have delivered a staggering 203+ million lessons. It is fast becoming second nature for high school students to refer to Khan Academy on any given and relevant topic, to better understand the concept or to simply reinforce the learning. It is on track to become their first source much sooner rather than later.
The internet is also challenging the traditional instruction methods at high schools in which teachers would explain a topic in the classroom and students would reinforce the concepts through homework after school. With video lectures available on the net, instruction is leaning towards students to prepare for a topic beforehand and then solve problems in the classroom assisted by the teacher. Flip teaching is already making inroads into the K-12 education system with encouraging results. In a survey of teaching trends, 43% of respondents currently use or plan to try the flipped classroom model and 13% plan to completely adopt it within the next 5 years. Furthermore, in terms of assessing student performance online, 46% of schools plan to implement an online system within the next 5 years. The same survey also captured that 37% of K-12 schools will move to completely digital textbooks within the next 1-5 years, while 57% are either already using or would start to use digital textbooks within the next 12 months.
Technology-enabled high school education also has far-reaching potential to change the world around us for the better. The potential impact to developing economies is significant. Many of them have heavily invested in network and telecom infrastructure, and today have pervasive basic cell phone coverage. High-speed broadband access will certainly be the next step, followed by the availability of educational content in local languages. Making self-learning through online methods an integral part of secondary education will bring about far-reaching change and promote faster development. The vast availability of educational content has the potential to expand curiosity and interests much earlier in life for many, and will drive more informed career choices as well.
The advancing world of secondary education certainly has tremendous possibilities for the citizens of tomorrow… They enable seamless collaboration, across groups, regions and cultures, and this learning will hopefully translate well for them in the professional world.