This conversation is closed.

What is the future of "western" education? How will knowledge be conveyed to the next generation of students?

Often times, I hear from teachers and educators about how technology has revolutionized the classroom. But what has this technology really done for us?

Yes, the classroom has gotten a little streamlined, with the capability to use computers to type up essays and etc. But as a student, I wouldn't say any of this is revolutionary. It only makes learning a little more convenient. The classroom model hasn't changed for decades, if not centuries. There's a teacher, or another knowledgeable individual, who instructs a group of students, who take notes and do activities/projects under the guidance of that individual. This classroom model has remained almost unaltered despite the development of radio, television, and other things that were to have expected to "revolutionize" and change the way how we educate students.

With this being said, what do you guys all think? Will the education system and classroom model change in the future? Or will it remain the same?

  • thumb
    May 1 2013: in reality, i haven't seen this so called revolution in effect. i've seen paper get replaced with tablets - a very expensive exercise but hardly a revolution.

    there is very little use of technology to improve or make the teaching job more efficient. schools tend to be mired in tradition as much as religion.

    what we will need to teach kids is how to spot propaganda (advertisers and the media have been exploiting kids' gullibility for many years now) and differentiate between opinion and information.

    unfortunately, it is not the "communication revolution" that drives change in schools but the logistics of managing over-sized classes and expensive (digital) resources with severely limited budgets.

    i am not seeing much in the way of real change despite all the overexcited rhetoric regarding technology..
  • thumb
    Apr 29 2013: Maybe some of the below can provide an eyeopener for US.

    USA education petition may be appropriate for US, EU ...?

    Please share with US, EU and others colleagues, family, friends, and schools, FREE and OPEN online education and books. These W3 resources are affordably, and travel not required.

    CourseEra - Take the World's Best Courses, Online, For Free. CourseEra is a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. A future where top universities educate millions of students.
    There are 62 Universities partnered With Coursera.

    edX - The Future of Online Education for anyone, anywhere, anytime. EdX is a not-for-profit enterprise of its founding partners Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that features learning designed specifically for interactive study via the web. A new online-learning experience with online courses.
    There are 12 Universities partnered With edX.

    The Open University's mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas. We promote educational opportunity and social justice by providing high-quality university education to all who wish to realize their ambitions and fulfill their potential. []

    United Nations - Tuition Free Online University University of the People (UoPeople) is the world's first non-profit, tuition- free online university dedicated to opening the gates to higher education for all individuals otherwise constrained.
  • thumb
    Apr 28 2013: I think there is a difference, actually, between, on the one hand,the sort of top down instruction from a live teacher lecturer or Kahn academy lecture and, on the other, the teacher as facilitator of inquiry and discussion. I think there is a difference between a model in which students receive information as individuals from someone considered an authority and in which they experiment and learn through discourse in groups.

    I agree that there are common features as well- that people always have done most of their learning outside of the classroom, through pursuing and engaging in their own experiences in the course of life and work. A greater range of resources are now available for outside inquiry, with the addition of technology. This means some people focus on gathering information from others through online sources and less time experimenting than people did in the past. Some people focus more on communication-based forms of learning and on gathering prepared information rather than personal tinkering.

    One thing formal education can do for the receptive learner is to provide a range of tools for lifelong learning outside the classroom, tools to add to those a learner would automatically use or be exposed to. This is one of the things that I appreciate most from my formal education. Another is to give students real time access to people who are immensely knowledgeable in the content and ways of learning in their fields, access that includes real interaction, asking and answering questions, and mentoring. That is another thing I found of enormous value in my education.
  • Apr 28 2013: I like Khan's model for the motivated student. One of the issues is however, that not all students are motivated, but all students will be future adults. So, perhaps the idea should be broken into two parts: 1) How do we provide an opportunity for the motivated student to learn more material so as not to be bored? 2) How do we teach all the students the basic things needed to survive as adults in the future?

    Motivation is one answer. The motivated student sees opportunities offered to those with a high degree of demonstrated performance and push themselves to achieve and gain access to these opportunities. The unmotivated student realizes that either do not want to compete in the academic world, are not motivated by the opportunities they see in adult life, or just do not want to do the work to learn.

    Taking the last group first, I think student performing in the lower 1/3 should be taught to work as part of the learning experience in a positive way. Learning this lesson after the opportunity for education has passed you by is too late, frustrating, and creates a problem for society as unskilled, unmotivated, lazy adults hit the workforce. Somewhere, this sector seems to believe that playing the victim card is that path to survival rather than learning to work. We need to eradicate this notion.

    The middle 1/3 doesn't need to be shown how to work, but needs to be shown opportunities that appeal to them and a path forward to achieving them. These opportunities need to be adult life sustaining, meaning that the need to result in careers that keep them out of poverty and sustain food, shelter, clothing, and these care for their families. This might be trades or skills where a college degree is not needed to accomplish the work.

    The top 1/3 knows how to work and sees opportunity. We just need to make sure the barriers such as education expenses and external influences do not inhibit them from achieving their dreams.
  • thumb
    Apr 29 2013: It has to change. Average student spends a lot time on Facebook/Youtube. So educational system (eastern/western) will change automatically. (Give it some more time plz,
  • Apr 29 2013: I think what you describe is common all over the world and not "Western" specific?

    I agree that our current teaching model is very old and we need a new way to teach everyone because our society is getting more complex. The ongoing automation will further decrease the number of jobs that require minimum education while jobs with high requirements in IT, sciences, bio technology and similar will continue to increase.

    I think we don't realize how much technology changed education (and this is just the beginning). Before the Internet era, students had to rely on their library to find answers and research material. With the Internet everyone has unprecedented access to knowledge on any topic. For example, Wikipedia is helping over a billion people around the world to understand any topic. Collaboration tools and sites allow students and teachers to collaborate. Free online courses and classes allow students with no income to learn material from top Universities like MIT etc.

    We are also seeing slow but positive change in how classrooms are organized. For example, some schools are experimenting with Khan Academy and similar systems where students are more active in the learning process and teachers can focus more on individual students.

    I think the future is very promising as students will have more access to wide range of online resources.

    • thumb
      Apr 29 2013: I agree what is stated above, that the current education system is very outdated. New developments on learning styles and the progress on how we retain information will be changing our education system. I believe as a part of this change, technology will naturally flow into the new systems of education. With that said technology will not be the single key that will change the current education system. Technology will be integrated into the new education systems that develop from our new understandings.
      • Apr 29 2013: Yes, society and esp. younger generation will also be part of pressure on the education system to change and adapt to new needs and views of its students.

        Hopefully public education will adapt fast enough to provide its students enough skills for 21st century jobs.

        Interesting times indeed. cheers
  • Apr 29 2013: definitely agreed.

    technology is revolutionizing nothing in education.

    education, as far as i remember, is supposed to enrich a student's memory, cognition, IQ, EQ, logic, etc. but what is really happening? with computers, now westerners are not even able to do tables of simple maths on their own. they need to Google the weight of earth and are usually confused between 300m/s and 3lac m/s being lights velocity.

    i agree technology is important, but it has seriously hampered the student's development in terms of memory and cognition.

    what is the use of a method which paralyses the student neck down in terms of thinking and deducing logical solutions? what do we educate students for?

    now answering your question Ben:

    what do you guys all think? i think technology as a point of reference is fair and fine. but if students are made dependent on technology instead of the best computer they can ever have - their brains - they are seriously nech deep in trouble with respect to their thinking abilities.

    Will the education system and classroom model change in the future? it definitely will. up to a point where children will order water bottles sitting on their benches and get homework done using voice recognition programs.

    Or will it remain the same? if you look at how exponentially science has developed in the past 100 years, you would agree that the education system remaining same is least probable.

    cheers Ben Wang!! :)
  • thumb
    Apr 28 2013: Why do you want to limit it to the classroom?
  • Apr 28 2013: There have been several good TED talks on this. Time will tell.