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Asking for a slate that already is written into!

If I give you a slate or a notebook and a chalk or pencil, would you respond by complaining that it does not have anything written on it? Well that is how most educationist view technology as and that is what the problem with technology providers is.  We are so habituated to fast food instant noodle, that we want even our slates to be pre-written by someone else. The marketeers have lost the vision of utility of slate so much that they are still busy in selling slates with pre-written alphabets on them, and they are not giving you any chalk for your own writing as well.

Sounds absurd? Then remove slate and notebook, and put in its place the modern technology, computers, laptops, tablets and online learning solutions. In place of chalk and pencil, consider your ability to create and modify your own digital knowledge.  Of the hundreds of e-learning, online tutorials, online courses, are there any that focus on giving their learners the experience of creating knowledge on their own, putting it in practice, collaborate with peers and evaluate based on this collective learning? Most products in this space today are driven by the shortsighted product and marketing choices that focus on quickly showing the returns, KPIs that measure the success of the platform, not necessarily that of the people who learn through it.

I would not like to name the platforms, but if a website providing videos of pre-recorded coursework comes to your mind when you think of e-learning or the term edu-tech, then the point is already made. This is not to say that there aren't any platforms which kept this essence of learning alive in their core product design. Unfortunately, there needs a lot of training for the users of these platforms to make them work efficiently. The result is that, even on these platforms, people have gone back to the same pattern of instructor-to-student model of one-way information.

Another problem is the overemphasis on the mobile and tablet use cases. Yes these are great technological advances but are they suitable for every use case? Are these devices and the software they run with suitable for a complete learning experience? Are there any success stories from the hyped educational tablets that came out recently? Problem is, this form factor allows very little creative space. Forget about running advanced scientific simulations, is it even comfortable to make fairly well formatted documents on them? A learner needs experimentation, creation of things she is learning about, whether physical or virtual, visualization of concepts, sharing the thought models or the artworks, collaborate with fellow learners. In place of all of this, what profit driven markets are giving today is merely the content to be consumed. In past, we did some efforts to correct this, but could not stand long enough against the profit driven consumerism of education. Hope some sense prevails in coming times and technology does not remain a non-writable slate but an accelerator of knowledge. 


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