As we work around the globe to innovate solutions to a variety of education challenges, the next step in innovation is to improve our ability to share and access information about these solutions. Clearly, communications technology will have an important role to play. In this article, the CEO of Learnmet describes the approach his organization is taking to forge the connections that will make a difference for educators worldwide.
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
It has been half a century since Martin Luther King, Jr. shared this great perspective on education. Yet even today, approximately 800 million people, including 72 million children, on this planet still cannot read. Almost one third of the world's literate population do not have the proper education they need to earn a good living.
One side of the world is sending ships to space, connecting the world with digital technologies, and printing a human heart to save a life. On the other side of the world, the developing communities of this planet are struggling to access basic education. Many developed countries have yet to have success with increasing the rate of college completion or with motivating people from rural areas to complete elementary school. In many parts of the world, education systems are simply focusing on teaching students to earn better grades.
The painful fact is we have not yet reached that point where education is everywhere for everyone and is a means of developing a better human being, building an informed and conscious character. So, what are we still missing at the beginning of the 21st century?
What is the key to unlocking the gateway to a future where every baby born, no matter where, will have access to education. Is it the source of knowledge? Is it the ability to retain knowledge? Is it the lack of motivation to share knowledge? Is it the missing human connections? Is it socio-political and geo-economic barriers? In my opinion, all these factors are collectively blocking the advancement of education worldwide.
Traditional classrooms and schools are having a hard time keeping up with the growing and evolving demand for education and learning. Scarcity of resources (limited number of schools and teachers) is making education too expensive. The traditional classroom model of education has its own limitations—it is time based and paced, restrictions affect who can engage, and scalability is limited as well.
Developing countries are still experimenting to identify the most robust education management and knowledge delivery system. The geographically, politically, and economically challenged parts of the globe are starving for quality sources of knowledge, or the necessary fundraising is taking too long to deploy the minimum required education system in time.
So how can we democratize education and commoditize it to an extent that more people have access to the same quality of education?
We believe our innovation could make a difference in response to this question, improving worldwide education by enabling technologies for individual educators and learners, and for organizations and changemakers trying hard to improve education, and forging the right connections to ensure there is adequate supply to meet the ever-growing demand for knowledge and education across the globe.
At Learnmet we have created a unique platform that integrates multiple web-based trending technologies to help connect learners, educators, parents, and facilitators at education organizations, institutes, and sponsors with one another in order to discuss, plan, and execute educational projects with the help of web-based tools that support content creation, content distribution, live online classes, and other connections using the power of the internet.
An educational project at Learnmet could involve helping academic students with math, language, or science skills; helping professionals and job seekers with better job skill improvement; or developing complex projects for delivering foundational education to developing communities, involving educators, NGOs, sponsors, and learning communities under one umbrella.
A web- and mobile app-based system like this is poised to transform education around the world by helping to remove barriers to accessing good teachers and knowledge content. Using a social knowledge network like this, students could get the help they need on demand for free or with a minimum investment of money. A system like this could also help millions of subject matter experts find a way to earn additional income by teaching individuals online or by participating in a large educational project.
Thoughtfully designed application functions, a fine blend of artificial-intelligence algorithms and web technologies, can facilitate important connections between changemakers and project sponsors. For an example, let's assume a student and a teacher have connected and the student is very interested in learning from the teacher. However, because the student cannot pay the minimum fees and the teacher needs to earn a living, the teacher is not feeling motivated enough to invest the necessary time. But the situation would completely change if the student is connected to opportunities for a little financial help to cover the lesson costs. A similar situation could be seen with geographically challenged schools seeking to hire and retain good teachers.
Through our innovation, students get to learn, teachers get value for investing their time, and sponsors get a way to demonstrate their passion for advancing education at both the micro and macro levels. Each step of this collaboration remains transparent and so each case becomes an inspiration for the next one.
In addition, the easy to use but powerful content production tools made available for teachers and trainers will increase the speed of educational content generation and distribution, irrespective of the teacher's knowledge and experience level on digital technologies. So Learnmet as a system provides a great opportunity for digitization of important knowledge content that otherwise could become inaccessible to future generations.
The collection of innovations available at Learnmet also includes multiple productivity tools, including notes, assessments, problem sharing, and class recordings, to increase the effectiveness of knowledge sharing and knowledge retention no matter whether knowledge is being shared socially, formally, informally, through content, or using a virtual online classroom software. When these tools are integrated with the social features and are localized, the impact is increased manyfold and creates a strong foundation for the global future.
The only constant in our innovation lab is the change. We constantly listen to our users and monitor the ways they use the system in order to keep innovating better ways to advance teaching, learning, and management of both. Our roadmap ahead envisions inter-connectivity between other education technologies and applications poised to advance the educational experience for a variety of learners and educators through segment-specific offerings. We envision Learnmet becoming a one-stop place for every learner and educator, whether they belong to the mainstream academic, professional segment or to a physically, economically, or geographically challenged segment.
To conclude, the innovations taking place at Learnmet are creating an ecosystem of consumers, providers, and facilitators of education and training, to help shape the future of education worldwide, enabling the latest technologies in a simple way.
The goal is one single platform that supports individuals from childhood to adulthood to retirement through various stages and modes of knowledge sharing, job search, and passive and active income generation, with no or minimum monetary investment.
We envision one single platform that helps NGOs and government agencies deliver education to developing communities, and that also helps schools and colleges manage learning for students. Businesses would benefit as well, with support in managing learning for employees and hiring trainers all over the world.
I cannot help but compare such a massive online education ecosystem with the smartphone and app ecosystem that transformed the cellular phone model and changed how information is consumed and offered. When we think about education in the next century, we see it virtualized, online, connected, and social without the barriers that exist today.
First published in Childhood Education International journal on 5th July 2018
Link to publication: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/10.1080/00094056.2018.1494445
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