An Open Platform for Educational Innovation
Current model of education system, all over the world, is basic, simple and rudimentary in its understanding of the need and its approach to serve the need. Its view of the need and the response to it can be summarized as: Children need to be educated; there is an ever-growing body of academic knowledge; that knowledge need to be (or should be) passed on to the children; someone needs to boil it down to a size that can fit into the twelve or so years of the duration of primary and secondary education. Hence, set up a body or board in-charge of fitting the growing knowledge into the syllabus, while ensuring that the syllabus is in alignment with government policies.
The shortcoming of this model is not in what it does, but in what it misses to do: to seek, support and absorb innovation. There is no mechanism in it to seek, support and absorb innovation. But, to innovate is in the nature of human beings. Hence, teachers, for example, innovate in the classroom. Educators set up alternate schools with innovative methods. But without the support from the education system, innovation from individual teachers is confined to themselves and does not spread across the system. Alternate schools, for lack of support from the establishment and from parents, fizzle out over the course of a few years, as the energy and enthusiam of the champions wear out.
In the last couple of centuries, every other field, system and industry, except education system, be it transportation, or medicine, or communication, or military, or hospitality or agriculture or manufacturing or finance or media or publishing, has made enormous progress, because of the ability to seek, support and absorb innovation, regarding understanding the needs and responding to the needs.
To improve the education system, the first thing we need is a mechanism to seek, support and absorb innovation. Once that happens, innovation pours in, spreads out and improvements should be seen in education system, like they are seen in any other field.
We are in the Internet age now, an age of unprecedented innovation. Overnight, we see multi-billion dollar companies like Whatsapp, Uber, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Flipkart, Alibaba, Nintendo, Netflix, AirBNB, Expedia and Uber and free resources like Wikipedia, MOOCs and Youtube popping up from nowhere.
What is the secret behind this unprecedented levels of innovation and these success stories? The secret is in the very model of innovation, which can be called platform/applications model, that draws a clear line between two types of innovation, one that develops a solid platform without concerning itself about how it would be used and two that builds applications on top of that platform without concerning itself about the complexity underlying the platform.
Internet and Word Wide Web, for example, provided a platform. Companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. used that platform to address specific market needs. Similarly, Wikipedia gave a platform and millions of articles on every subject under the sun emerged on that platform, in no time. The Internet age offers several such examples of platform/applications model. Another example of platform/applications model that everyone can relate to is the Android/Apps model of smartphones. Android gave the platform. And millions of applications were developed on that platform by individuals and companies addressing a variety of the needs of marketplace, overnight.
In the platform/applicationss model, platform absorbs a huge complexity of the real world and gives a clean, simple and easy to build upon base for the applications to be built. Application developers, be they individuals or companies, are shielded from all the underlying complexity, so that they can focus on a specific need that they choose to address.
To improve education system, we can try the same platform/applications model, a model proven to deliver results again and again in a very short time, both in attracting innovation and making it spread.
The Ed>4ward model is conceived taking inspiration from the platform/applications model of the Internet age. In this model, the platform is called Ed>Wise and the applications are called Ed>Learneos, or simply Learneos. Learneo is a learning activity or learning program that can happen within the classroom or outside or a combination of both.
Ed>Wise simplifies the complexity of understanding the uniqueness patterns, growth patterns, learning styles etc. of children. It gives simple and intuitive working level abstraction of a child's mind. Teachers, innovators and even parents can learn the basics of Ed>Wise in less than a week and the complete details of it in less than a month.
Just as creative minds can learn Android and develop Applications within a few months, teachers, innovators and even parents can develop Learneos, within a few months, and publish them on the Ed>4ward catalog for anyone in the world to use.
Just as Android Apps vary widely in what they do, the Learneos can vary in what they are meant for. They could be about making it easy to learn mathematics, or about making school attractive to children from low-income communities, or about increasing the self-esteem or social skills.
Ed>4ward model is designed to make the transition from the current model to the Internet age model smooth and gradual. Ed>Wise can be used by the teachers and parents to make micro-innovations to make even the current system better. In the first wave of adaptation of the Ed>4ward model, we would expect micro-innovations to occur. In the second wave, after large enough number of teachers, parents and innovators become familiar with this model, we can expect macro-innovation to slowly turn this large ship called education system into a new direction.
Ed>4ward follows the open source model of software development. Both Ed>Wise and Ed>Learneos are open and free. Anyone can contribute and anyone can use.