Essay on The Learning Revolution: Did We Miss When It Started?
Everything changes with time, and the educational system is no exception. Comparing educational methods of the 20th century with those of the 21st century, we see that traditional formal methods are no longer relevant. Searching for new solutions, we discovered Massive Open Online Courses, mobile learning, and problem-based learning. Actually, all these things are often mentioned when talking about the learning revolution.
However, optimistic hopes don’t always become reality. Not so long ago, a few people could expect Udacity to stop their free educational programs for corporate clients. There are many smaller projects but they often imply a certain amount of struggle. Software developers need to deal with various government structures to be able to test some new methods in practice. Schools and universities must spend one year to prepare for a test run. This situation doesn’t look much like a revolution.
Individual Learners Begin the Real Revolution
Official initiatives may seem to be important, but many groundbreaking changes happen in spite of the slow machine of government and because of smart decisions of particular individuals. Sometimes people just make a choice, for example, it may be a choice in favor of electric vehicles, or solar panels. In this case, politicians cannot control the people’s choice.
While governments focus on weighing all pros and cons, people change education from the inside. And it’s possible, most of all, because of start-ups. There are many learning technology projects that work on completely new educational products. Some products make education more accessible for students of any kind. Big educational platforms cannot stay as focused on needs of their customers as these small start-ups, and this is a reason why small companies begin the revolution.
Small companies don’t try to invade the market of formal education. Their success doesn’t depend on their ambitions. Their customers have a clear understanding of what they are looking for. They want to improve their knowledge and they know that formal training sometimes cannot guarantee the desired result. The value of the educational product is evaluated and determined by customers directly, the same way prices are formed.
This revolution slowly leaves formal systems behind. On the other side of this revolution, students don’t want to learn more nor develop new skills, because they have different goals. These students are asked to get good marks. They want to get the degree, and this aim is not bad but it’s slightly different from actually learning something new. It doesn’t mean that students are responsible for such a tendency. Quite the contrary, the thing is that a proper certificate and a university degree are more valuable than actual knowledge.
How Technological Startups Change Education
Self-teaching isn’t the big news, especially when it comes to language learning. Such platforms as Busuu, Babbel, Duolingo, etc. have hundreds of millions of users from all over the world. If you ask these people, only a few of them will agree to change their educational approach to traditional courses. More and more people appreciate advantages of smartphone apps and online sources over CDs and textbooks, which are also expensive. Educational tools become more accessible and cheaper, which allows millions of people around the world to learn what they want.
New educational solutions couldn’t have been imagined before. Now we have such tools as webcams, online encyclopedias, and emails. We have instant messages and we can work on the same documents with people from other countries, in real time. People learn new languages using interactive platforms, joining translation communities, and taking virtual classes. They are no longer restricted by any standards or requirements.
There is a general self-learning trend, and the examples above are just a tip of the iceberg. Every day, new enthusiasts create and test new training programs and programming courses. Using new technologies, people can study everywhere: in the coffee shop, waiting in the airport, or riding the subway.
Maybe educational revolution differs from what we’d imagined, but there are many people who see gaps in the traditional system, and they change it, developing new approaches. Even though it’s hard to see it coming, it doesn’t mean that there will be no revolution in learning. In contrast, we think that the revolution has already happened.