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By Thomas NgAugust 17, 2014In Others

Levelling the Playing Field in Education

In one of my earlier blogs about the state of funding for universities, and how online education is changing the game, I promised to write more on my excitement with how technology and the internet will trigger the revolution and evolution wherein the best content can be delivered by the best educators to most remote and marginalized communities.

Traditionally, the best schools recruited the best students. The parents of these students probably also studied in these best schools, befriended other privileged kids who supported each other in their privileged careers, and have privileged children who then go to these privileged schools.

These privileged schools would always be in privileged neighborhoods. The best educators would hence be attracted to these privileged schools.

I think that technology and the internet has a real chance to level the playing field, and enable the best education to reach under-privileged communities. There is already much online content available open source, like the Khan Academy, Coursera, MIT etc. I have personally believed for some time that you can probably find on the internet, all knowledge which you need to complete most academic qualifications.

However, a one-way delivery can probably not give a complete education experience. There is a role to play for educators. The Coursera programs, and probably others, do have instructors online interacting with the students and guiding them in an asynchronous manner.

But look at the video about the “Granny Cloud”, showing retired teachers in England teach live online to rural schools in India. I think that a mix of asynchronous instruction and live teaching online, with the best educators in the world can level the playing field for most marginalized communities.

I wish that like the legal profession, the teaching profession will also (if they do not already do so) mandate teachers to spend a minimum number of hours for pro-bono teaching. That way, the privileged teachers in the privileged schools can teach marginalized students without the fear, risk and inconvenience of commuting to the rather challenging neighborhoods to teach in schools with under-privileged children. They can do so online.

In my next article, I will take this discussion another “notch”.

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