Ed-tech has come of age. Gone are those days of HTML scripted pages with two big Next and Back buttons, the databases merely reporting how many seconds someone looked at a page and document repositories to be downloaded and printed at convenience. But how this came about may be slightly more contested. One may think it was video, made possible by robust bandwidth and multimedia in everyday computers, that changed everything. Yet others will think, like everything else, it was mobility, the ability to hold in hand a powerful enough device with a screen that does not tire off the eyes, that facilitated a different level of engagement with all things electronic. Social is also a big thing, and its advocates will claim that connecting with others electronically is changing everything. And, yet others will point to the emergence of the cloud, or affirmation of what they used to say in older times, 'the Network is the Computer', that changed computer from a box on a desk to a space to meet and collaborate. And, in the end, perhaps it is all those and more, a perfect storm of technologies, attitudes and ideas that made Ed-tech come of age.
However, I would claim that this is about a change of approach - and attendant expectations - that has really changed Ed-Tech, rather than any underlying change of technology. Technologies have indeed emerged and this has allowed these approaches to become viable, but technologies itself are not the change.
First, the conversation about Education Technology has moved beyond Cost. The argument that Ed-Tech saves money (by replacing teachers, classrooms etc) has become stale. Rather the buzzword today is scalability, pinned on the idea that Ed-Tech may allow us to do things that was not otherwise possible. And, within this broad theme, the key is of course turning non-consumers to consumers, reaching out to those who could not have, or afford, education before. Informed by thinking on Disruptive Innovation, this has become one of the most potent strand in the conversation about Ed-Tech.
Second, the conversation has moved from Tech to Ed part of the equation. It is less about what technologies can do, and more about the education model itself. So, creating classroom-like environments are no longer the holy grail of Ed-Tech. It is rather about creating new models of Education, centred perhaps, if it could be represented by a single concept, around the phenomenon of Emergent Learning, as popularised by TED Fellow (and ex-NIITian) Dr Sugata Mitra. Dr Mitra long advocated the idea that learners can learn themselves as long as they are empowered to do so. Technologies of learning are ideally suited to create these new learning environments, and indeed, drawing upon the earlier point, even for those who did not have access to formal or good quality education.
Third, the conversation in Ed-Tech has moved beyond being a Content-Delivery mechanism to being an environment for learning engagement. Indeed, there are still those Learning Management System providers who brag about providing reports on content consumption, but they are rather hopelessly out of time. The focus has now shifted to granular levels of activity, not just who downloaded what, but who is engaging with what and what they are producing and how they are doing it. In a way, the personalisation of learning, long a buzzword, has eventually become the cornerstone of Ed-Tech. And, it is not just pretension of personalization, but a genuine effort to understand, with all the new technologies of Big Data, defines the frontier of Ed-Tech today.
Indeed, one turns up at myriad education conferences today to see stillborn initiatives centred around talking heads, content manipulation and better management of education systems, but these efforts are destined to fail [even if they are funded, because most investors still do not get Ed-Tech]. The ones that are destined to make the future answers at least one of the three questions, if not all three, as below
1. Can this turn non-users into users?
2. Can this enable the learners to discover ideas or build capabilities which was not possible using traditional modes?
3. Can this provide engagement through better understanding of the learning process of individual learners?
Ed-Tech (or e-Learning as it was called then) came into vogue approximately the time when people started talking about e-Commerce (late 90s), but while the latter has since found a footing and now finally revolutionising the world, Ed-Tech has languished because of both poverty of ideas and lack of aspiration. That finally seems to be changing, and this may be because we are more willing, at the societal level, to talk about education in general. This is good news for Ed-Tech, but not for those weak-hearted who see Ed-Tech as a way of delivering videos with tracking or running a forum.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
The ‘Why’ Question? Adolf Hitler was appointed the German Chancellor by President Von Hindenburg on 30th January 1933. This was an extraordinary turn of events. Previously, President Von Hindenburg consistently refused to appoint Hitler the Chancellor, despite the impressive electoral performance of NSDAP in July 1932, Hitler’s uncompromising demand of the Chancellor’s post and a repeat election in November 1932 which failed to break the deadlock. Explaining his refusal, Hindenburg wrote in a letter on 24th November, “a presidential cabinet led by you would develop necessarily into a party dictatorship with all its consequences for an extraordinary accentuation of the conflicts in the German people.” The question ‘why’ Hitler was appointed Chancellor, despite the President being acutely aware of what might follow, is therefore a significant one. The NSDAP had election successes throughout 1932, and was already the biggest single party in the Reichstag and various Landtags acros
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.