As we learn more and more about what kinds of educational platforms will best serve our kids (as they head off to get jobs in a future we cannot quite envision yet), several interesting and innovative platforms are emerging. We know we need to make a radical change in the way we prepare our youth to enter the workforce, and we know some of the traditional models aren’t working very well (with many schools, even prestigious ones, still operating under old-fashioned structures designed decades – dare I say, centuries – ago).
Enter Woz-U, launched last week by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. This new online learning platform has been developed to address the skills gap that currently exists in the marketplace. Woz-U will focus on “both students and the companies that will eventually hire those students,” with a curriculum centred around “computer support specialists and software developers.” It will offer courses on core and essential topics like data science, cybersecurity, and mobile apps, and it also plans to assist tech companies in training, retraining and recruiting their workforces through “on-site, customized programs and a subscription-based curricula.” Wozniak says: “Our goal is to educate and train people in employable digital skills… people are often afraid to choose a tech-based career because they think they can’t do it. I know they can, and I want to show them how.”
Also, take a look at Khan Academy – started by financial analyst Sal Khan – whose stated mission it is to provide “free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere.” They offer preschool math right up to chemistry and physics and have recently branched out into more wide-ranging topics like history, grammar, world religions and how Pixar artists do their jobs – enabling you to animate bouncing balls, build a swarm of robots, and make virtual fireworks explode! They believe strongly in the idea of mastery – allowing learners to move at their own pace and master each knowledge level before moving on. They do this by providing compelling on-demand video vignettes, which function as bite-sized sequential learning and can be consumed on a timeline that’s entirely comfortable for the student. Need to go back and take a deeper dive into long division before moving on to calculus. You have the space and the time to nail the fundamentals with Kahn’s brilliant model. You might note that Kahn’s approach is the exact opposite of how most learning institutions operate (where the pattern of forcing students to move on with ever advancing subject material while significant gaps in core understanding exist runs rampant). Khan Academy uses “intelligent software, deep data analytics and intuitive user interfaces” to train students and teachers on a global level, and they innovate constantly to keep pace with what the workforce and their learners require.
So buckle up educators, students, and parents … the educational landscape is about to experience significant disruption, and we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.
Learn more about Woz-U’s plans here.
To learn more about Khan Academy’s approach to mastery, check out Sal Khan’s informative Tedtalk under Ted’s Education Revolution series.
Michael Chase, CMO
St. Joseph Communications