Wednesday, November 06, 2013

BPN 1669: Transform teaching into learning

Every two years, contestants from dozens of countries around the world compete to win the prestigious World Summit Awards for best e-Content. The awards are given in 10 categories and are rigorously judged by an international jury. The winners participate in an international conference where they present their projects and discuss their plans and impacts.

Aula 365

I was honoured to be a juror and moderator at the event, held recently in Sri Lanka. For the category of e-Learning and Science, here are my key takeaways from contributions of the winning entries, and recommendations for entrepreneurs who wish to make a mark in this category.

Science Learning Hub from New Zealand promotes student interest and engagement in science by providing contemporary, contextualised resources for school teachers from Years 2–10. It demonstrates the relevance of scientific research to our everyday lives, and links local science research organisations with science teachers. The project is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and managed by the University of Waikato.

Opon Imo from Nigeria aptly means Tablet of Knowledge. The Government of Osun State has developed and deployed a technology based learning system delivered on 150,000 provisioned Android tablets. They will be distributed to all the pupils of senior secondary schools in the state. The stand-alone solution consists of a compelling self- paced series of off-line courses, conducted in an interactive manner and backed by a library of relevant e-books and a testing environment.

Ludwig from Austria is a new type of learning game on the topic of renewable energy. The game is based on the curriculum and targeted to adventurers aged 11 years and above. The game is framed as a search for energy sources in space colonies, in a race against time.

PresentationTube from Egypt offers a free video presentation recorder (for Windows) and an online network to help teachers and learners in Egypt produce, upload and share quality digital video content. Video presentations can be used in various on-campus and off-campus e-learning settings to provide more realistic support to learner, and create engagement.

Aula365 from Argentina is the biggest educational network in Ibero America, with more than 3 million children, parents and teachers that collaborate and learn with it. There are more than 4,000 educational resources created by specialists in each subject. Teachers and parents are also involved along with students in activities for critical thinking, creative thinking, and cooperative intelligence.
Aula365 was judged the overall winner, and the project leaders of the other entries also joined them in discussing the impacts and learnings from their initiatives.

Here are my recommendations for aspiring entrepreneurs in this space:
  1. This is the age of video, so leverage the full power of video in education to make the learning experience more engaging and less abstract.
  2. Connect different kinds of learning objects and formats. Different people have different learning styles and preferences, so spread your content across a range of channels such as video, presentations, whiteboards, pictures and chatboards.
  3. Rope in the experts in domain and pedagogy. The digital environment has spawned a wide range of models and theories of interactive, exploratory and cooperative learning. Bring in specialists from geography to gaming.
  4. Experiment with a range of business models. Freemium and government support are some examples used in the education sector.
  5. Emerging economies are in a good position to leapfrog in digital learning. There is not such a deep entrenched legacy of textbook publishers, so it is possible to make the leap directly into e-content via platforms such as tablets.

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