Earlier this month, The Economist announced a winner in the 21st Century Cyber Schools Challenge. There were many strong submissions, and the team decided that the two runners up also deserved recognition for their outstanding solutions. We will be posting solution summaries from the Challenge winner, Andrew Deonarine, as well as the two runners up in this Challenge, Tristram Hewitt and Daniel Rasmus. Congratulations Andrew, Tristram and Daniel.
Below is Daniel's summary of his solution:
I approached the Challenge for a 21-st Century cyber school as a design challenge, and thus technology as a component of the solution, not the entire solution. I focuses first and foremost, on establishing learning as a value. Learning must be introduced to students where they are, not where others wish them to be. Learning must be made contextual. Technology cannot exist without policies and practices that offer safety and health, family reinforcement, including parenting practice, and community involvement.
When it comes to technology, we must avoid repeating the failed practices of the West that often introduce technology for the sake of technology. In my design technology introduction must match readiness, and be appropriate and contextual to individual learning objectives. Technology must augment the delivery of instruction, not replace it. I believe it is imperative that the learning environment itself be part of the solution, with open source at the core, so that learners can help improve the software as they use it for learning.
Personalized learning delivered through content services will be central to next generation learning systems, regardless of where they are deployed. This approach to content strips away artificial containers and allows instructors to mix and match content, with the aid of business intelligence-like tools that align components to learning styles. In this way, the educator can concentrate on outcomes while software helps configure individualized instruction to help learner achieve the desired outcomes. This also implies a deep historical understanding of the learner, and his or her learning style.
The future of education will be global, mobile and individualized. This solution seeks to integrate those elements into a comprehensive design—one that refrains from being too optimistic about technology’s ability to transform learning. Any workable solution must start with parents, communities and governments, least those who invest in transformation find their money spent on expensive learning baubles, while those who we seek to reach subsist in squalor and oppression. A 21st Century cyber school is but a part of a bridge to the future, and it will do little good without a complete structure to support it.