Rethinking Education in the Digital Age

Rethinking Education in the Digital Age

Have you considered how the traditional textbook author/publisher, teacher, student and parent relationship should change as a result of digital transformation?  In this article let’s explore how this traditional process can be greatly enhanced with digital technologies.  Traditionally a physical textbook is published in one format for all students.  Sometimes, at a great expense, they can be translated to another language.  There are several challenges with that.  Not all students learn in the same manner or language, physical textbooks can only use images and texts on paper, and today’s students are more accustomed to accessing, reading, watching and listening to content in a digital format on smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Digital formats, however, can be integrated with all kinds of digital media.  The devices or hardware that reads digital formats (smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc.) also mostly support GPS and mapping.  With GPS sensors, authors can integrate location data from Google Field Trips, to make their textbooks location-aware and more contextually relevant to the reader.  For example a student could be reading about Lewis and Clark’s explorations, and their digital textbook could automatically show them nearby locations, photos, video clips, notes, podcasts, etc., related to that journey.  In addition, virtual reality and augmented reality applications could then be created to bring historic events to life.

What if educators were able to regularly assess the best learning styles for each student so information was personalized for each?  What if those assessment results could automatically change and personalize all digital content presented to the student across all subjects?  This is another opportunity for a “platform,” a personalized education platform (PEP). What if all schools only used digital content that could automatically be personalized based on assessment results?  What if textbooks were simply data sets for PEPs?  Could that be a way to improve our educational system so it is more effective, easier and more enjoyable?

What if the PEP used gamification to motivate learning, assignment completion and compliance? Could better scores unlock rewards that motivate?  Could teachers, parents, tutors, universities and professors congratulate achievements through encouraging comments and messages?

What if the PEP used artificial intelligence to monitor students and their work across all digital content, and across all subjects, and then automatically provided tools, resources and advice to the teachers and parents to improve the students experience and results?

What if every digitized subject and all content was automatically socialized, and students could discuss the subject with teachers, tutors and parents and link to additional information on the subject?  What if there were all kinds of complementary content and tutorials available for every assignment, including videos, podcasts, Kahn Academy clips and additional help notes.

What if AI could instantly evaluate all data on a student so the teacher, tutor and parents could quickly understand how to help students?  Could AI help reduce the busy work, so teachers could spend more time teaching, coaching and mentoring students?

Could PEPs with integrated AI analyze all learning across all students, levels and grades and recommend new ways of improving educational results and experiences?  Could deficiencies in education or teaching be identified earlier and corrected quicker?

Could students with special needs have better access to online teachers and tutors that specialize in those needs and learning styles?  Could the best teaching tools be simply a click a way?

All of this technology already exists.  The question is can we bring it all together into a working PEP, supported by the necessary industry and educational ecosystems.  Do we have enough motivated parents, educators and politicians that are forward thinking enough to bring it all together?

What other technologies and capabilities should we add to this discussion?

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