Why we fail at leveraging technology in education
There are three reasons why we fail at leveraging technology in education. First, we are undoubtedly missing the root cause of the systemic failure. It’s not content, it’s context. The content must be made meaningful to the learner. Second, we’ve failed to apply the fat tail principles of mass customization. Anchoring a concept for a learner is unique to each student. While Kahn Academy and the edX initiatives show how expansive the net is for provisioning content, we’re still missing the point that technology must address.
Finally, learning occurs at specific moments in specific context – and this includes space/time issues. Simply put, if my screen and keyboard are the source of massively complex communications systems including email, Facebook, alarms, alerts, notifications, etc. it is by definition, the worst possible tool for isolated and focused attention to a complex subject. If you want to study, you need an isolation mode for your computer. If you really ask most of our students why they end up in a live week-long course, it’s for isolation from daily interruptions.
For technology to make significant changes in our education we need to move the focus from content to context. It’s great to enroll 155,000 students but success is measured in the output of a system, not the inputs. A 4.6% success rate is a starting point but it’s also an indicator of the real challenges that lie ahead.
If modern computer security issues require new competencies in the labor force, our works cut out for us for years to come.