[edX]: Study in Harvard from your sofa

By Pablo Medel. May 22, 2012

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Ideology doesn’t matter anymore: the educational system is in urgent need of a facelift. Things have changed; the educational needs are different. That is why the so-called ICT’s (Information and Communication Technologies) are vital for curricular planning.

Many would be surprised as they enter a classroom and see that there are no platforms, no colossal blackboards drilled into the walls and no teachers drawing their diagrams with white chalk or testing the students on the daily lesson. Instead, they will find a projector hanging from the ceiling pointing towards an interactive whiteboard and the acting teacher opening his virtual book from his desktop computer, while the students work in groups. And since the system, as infundibular as it can be, narrows the cones of its funnel towards university, it’s obvious that the kids require a methodology that matches their reality.

Lectures, sensu stricto, are something of the past. Fortunately, the concept student has been released from its etymological load (from the Latin studium, painstaking application) and now the communication is based on feedback. After including the basic competences (aim to make education useful for our lives), insistence on cross-curricular programmes, participation, dynamism and encouragement of creativity are (or should be) first on the agenda. And when the digital natives reach the university they obviously demand a 2.0 education.

Conscious of this educational scenario, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have taken the awaited leap towards online education. The result? A new e-learning platform, edX, presided by professor Anant Agarwal, MIT’s Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. The new free online courses will start in October, and anyone from anywhere in the world will be able to enrol.

It’s obvious that education, we like it or not, relies on the Internet. It might not be the panacea but, taking into account the world’s current situation, it could be a suitable channel to fulfil that maxim by Confucius that says: "In teaching there should be no distinction of classes”.

Ministers of Education of the world, get your acts together.

 

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