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What is necessary, what is possible and the relationship between them / Dr. Liat Ben David

And what is suddenly possible is active, responsive and dynamic communication, available to masses and individuals alike, on a global level.

A laptop project for every student at a school in Thimphu, Bhutan. From Wikipedia
A laptop project for every student at a school in Thimphu, Bhutan. From Wikipedia

"In the end," one educator told me, "it all comes down to the personal meeting between the teacher and the student. When the door closes, and the teacher remains with his students - the personal and personal interaction between them is the most influential on the learning process." He is right. The personal tutoring, marginal-something, has always been the best way to learn. In 1984 Bloom and his colleagues showed that the achievements of students who studied in individual education, where the interaction between the student, the teacher and the teaching-learning processes are at the center of the activity, were double those of their colleagues who studied in regular class lectures, intended for masses. Students who studied in smaller groups, in more concentrated and active learning, achieved intermediate results between the two methods. When I reminded him of the old study, he replied, "It's clear, but an individual education system is not possible for the masses."
Is it possible to reduce the existing gap between the achievements of the individual method and those of the mass method? If we agree that education was and remains the main tool through which leadership and social growth occur, how can education be provided to the masses in an efficient and progressive manner, as if it were individual education, or at least close to it?

In the article "The Revolution Will Come" published last May in the New York Times, Tom Friedman claims that significant changes occur when what is desperately needed meets what is suddenly possible.

Education is facing several challenges, which we must take into account. It is no longer just about availability. Even if we live in a developed western country, where there are mostly educational institutions, the cost of each year of study is rising to such a level that it is not within everyone's reach. A rough calculation shows that the expenses for tuition, equipment, basic living expenses and potential loss of salary while studying reach several tens of thousands of shekels per year. Even those who already achieve a high level of education, do not necessarily find a job that requires the education they have acquired. At the same time, studies claim that the level of general knowledge of students is decreasing. There has long been an overwhelming consensus that the change in the education system is "desperately needed". The question is, how will "what is suddenly possible" affect this.

And what is suddenly possible is active, responsive and dynamic communication, available to masses and individuals alike, on a global level. The percentage of countries, regions and people that are increasingly connected into an extensive human communication network is growing at a dizzying pace. The same is true in Israel: studies prove that over 90% of all youth in Israel, under the age of 18, browse the Internet in one way or another, with increasing frequency. The availability and spread of fast wireless internet communication, smartphones, tablets, Facebook, social networks and more, which go with us and our children in the palm of our hand everywhere, have made the question "Is it right to strengthen ICT in education systems" irrelevant, even ridiculous: the students have long been there , regardless of what the system does or doesn't do. We are facing a generation that was born and grew up connected, a generation that feels so comfortable and right with the dynamics of online learning that it is not second nature to it, it is first nature.

This situation makes online learning one of the revolutionary options available. It is a technology that enables the most direct and efficient connection between the best teachers in the world, the latest knowledge in the world - and students all over the world, and especially between individual learning and learning for the masses. On the one hand, any online learning process is open to anyone, allowing hundreds of thousands of students to participate in it. Who among us would not want to learn from the best minds and lecturers around the world? The most outstanding, leading and charismatic teacher becomes available without any geographical or territorial limitations, and so does the knowledge. On the other hand, the nature of online learning allows each student not only to progress at his own pace, while creating the appropriate contexts and enrichment for him, but also to ask questions and receive answers from experts and peers alike, to receive feedback and evaluation on tasks, to address misconceptions on a scale that was never possible before and to correct Mistakes while understanding and improving them - all the benefits of guided and professional individual learning, and all the proven benefits of peer learning and mass learning. For those who think it's impossible, check out what's happening with the hundreds of thousands of students in the world who are already studying a variety of subjects this way through the best lecturers from leading academic institutions, whether it's EDX, an initiative of MIT, Harvard and Berkeley; Whether it is Coursera, an initiative of two professors from Stanford University; or other various initiatives. And yes, these courses are completely real, available, given for free and include all the processes and tasks required in the learning process and recognized by academic institutions, organizations and businesses. And no, it does not make a person lonely, on the contrary: it has been proven that students initiate meetings, independent learning groups and joint activities, both according to their geographical boundaries and at the online level. It also does not make the universities redundant, it enriches them and what they are able to offer and demand from their students. This requires a rethinking of the entire business-economic model of education, so that it adapts to the existing economic world, where more and more services are provided for free to the masses.

We tend to claim that children today know much less than in the past, that their language is sloppy and their general level of education is very low, but historical memory proves that this is a claim that every generation tends to make towards the new generation that came after it. My parents knew by heart the Lamentation of David and the Song of the Sea, were familiar with Einstein's theory of relativity, the writings of Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky and knew how to tell the details of the lives of Napoleon, Beethoven and Van Gogh. They had no idea how genetics works or what the phenomena of a black hole and the big bang are, the beetles sounded to them like a group of squealers that had nothing to do with music - needless to say what they thought of "types" like Freddie Mercury - Andy Warhol was a charlatan, Eastern cultures and philosophy of which they were not familiar, and if I told them that nanochemistry proves that axioms can change, they would think that I had lost my mind. We do not know less than our parents, our children do not necessarily know less than us. But we know other things and the options available to us are more varied and richer. Two weeks ago we decided to go on a trip to Central America. When my mother went there ten years ago, she went to a well-known travel company and signed up for an organized trip. The travel company was her main, not to say almost exclusive, source of knowledge and authority, in addition to some recommendations from close friends, history books and encyclopedias. Today, the way my mother drove seems like a client from another world, almost delusional. In a few days, we built an itinerary that was based on the experience and suggestions of travelers from all over the world, on suggestions that came from different organizations that offer tourism services there, on photos and video clips that different people uploaded to the web, on a comparison between services and prices provided by different companies, (from flights to food stalls , from hotels to host families) and the research we did on Wikipedia and other sources of information that provided us with basic knowledge of history, nature and other topics we find interesting. In a nutshell, we can say that we have made a rich, interactive and personal learning process, based on global knowledge and experience. This online learning does not replace the trip we go on. But she undoubtedly made it much more accessible, efficient, interesting and exciting.

Such an order of magnitude of pace of cultural change raises serious concerns, but also tremendous opportunities. The fear that learning is becoming "cheap", that the level required of the students is decreasing and that serious control and evaluation systems should be implemented on the content being studied has always been true, whether we were teaching using written textbooks in the classroom or whether we were looking for the information online in a course originating in India. Like learning, control also needs to change the tools and environments it uses.

In the educational aspect, the main Achilles' heel, at the current stage, is that it fundamentally changes the role of the teacher, who must be much more flexible, mediate and assist in building a complete process, and much less knowledgeable and a source of authority. The phrase "knowledge is the common domain" has never been more tangible, but not only knowledge has gone up a notch in becoming the common domain. Also learning and teaching.
Does it solve all education problems? Of course not. After all, you have a lesson that twentieth century studies in psychology, sociology and pedagogy taught us: there is no single educational method, no matter how effective and wonderful it may be, that is suitable for every person without exception. Each of us thinks differently, each learns differently, each has different inclinations and desires. This is a lesson that the educational system, built on industrial training and a uniform scale of standards, has not yet internalized. Furthermore: online learning indeed strengthens and enriches our ability to offer a variety of options to each person, but there is still a need for training and learning that the person must perform in additional environments, such as laboratories of various types, environments that require physical activity, ecological environments, social environments. The more learning takes place in richer and more varied living environments, the more effective and meaningful the learning. In the days when the Internet is no longer a technological tool but a living environment, the traditional teaching methods, which sit a few dozen students in a classroom in front of a teacher, however wonderful he may be, must enrich their character.

The Greek philosopher Plutarch claimed that the mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a tree to be set on fire. According to him, education should deal less with "transferring material" to fill the minds of students, and more with processes that ignite imagination, creativity and active engagement in problem solving and decision making. Such education is the basic right of every person, of any age, of any social status. Almost two thousand years later, Plutarch is finally starting to reach the masses.

The author is the CEO of the Wolf Foundation

4 תגובות

  1. Blessed is the believer. I grew up in the sewing generation - the same generation whose elementary school days the accessibility of the Internet was still in its infancy and was not yet a practical tool for students, but as I grew older the Internet became an important resource for education and study.
    I hope that the new models of education that you demand will be able to integrate the two spheres of education - the virtual one and the real one - in order to give the student the necessary skills to be educated both through the Internet and through other means. But most of all I find the summary of the article to be the cornerstone of the article: no matter in what form and in what way, children should be prevented from being fattened with material as they are fattening geese, but rather give them the tools to learn, and the desire to do so.

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