“Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.”
An enlightening intervention of Lord David Puttnam during the EU conference Education in the Digital Era, quoting Sullivan Ballou’s letter to his wife Sarah during the Civil War, reminded us of the basic characteristics of innovative learning: love, passion and emotion.
An entrepreneur in education also has something that comes over him or her “like a strong wind”: the desire to change education, improve learning.
During the conference, the seven Open Education Challenge startups were distinguished as “European edtech startups of the year”. Three months of incredible work, personal engagement and teamwork enabled these startups to go all the way from an idea to “a viable and investable solution”.
- Viable: capable of being done or used, capable of succeeding, capable of living
- Investable: that can be invested, suitable for an investment
All OEC projects are now capable of living, suitable for an investment and ready to contribute to innovative learning.
The OEC incubation process is hard to summarise in a few lines: six European cities, three months of intensive work, 110 mentors… and beyond the figures, a personal touch: making friends, working overtime, having fun, sharing passion, getting nervous. But more importantly, being aware that no innovation can succeed if it not backed by the users themselves.
At the EU conference, one contribution was heavily retweeted: “The biggest innovation doesn’t come from technology, but from teachers who embrace it properly and believe in it.”
All OEC startups share this comment: Technology is not the issue. The education challenge comes first.
Believe. Be passionate.
All an education entrepreneur needs is love!
Do you remember what you once learned at school, yesterday, a month ago, a year ago, 10 years ago? Experts from Domoscio, the French edtech startup that participates in the Open Education Challenge, have an answer: NO! They argue – based on scientific evidences – that we forget 80% of what we learn and propose a new learning tool to revise and memorize using an algorithm that adapt our learning path to our needs and abilities.
Why do we forget? One hypothesis is that what we learn is boring.
For David Miller from Kuato Studios that visited the Open Education Challenge (OEC) during its stay in London last week, learning should be about fun and game; one of their game, Recall, is a social trivia game that presents us with fun facts.… then quizzes our recall in a race against the clock! Wayne Holmes, a former teacher and co-founder of Zondle is also concerned by how bored the learners are. Its aim is to help motivate children to remember key facts in the time needed. How? Again, creating, playing and sharing games.
But is learning just about how fast or how well we can remember? Aren’t there other ways to learn better?
One way will be learning in teams. This is exactly what Atta, an OEC startup, proposes with its new app. Learning is a challenge that requires teamwork and students and teachers must be guided to work better in team.
Another way will be learning in an individualized way. This is what learning analytics are about, helping teachers to build individualized learning paths with precise data based on students’ learning experiences. Klassdata, another OEC startup, proposes such a tool with personalized dashboards to better follow and support learners.
Learning in teams or learning alone? Students may very well learn at home alone and remember in the classroom by engaging in a dialogue with the teacher. The classrooms will be flipped - by the way don’t miss the app designed specifically for flipped learning by Harness – and new creative learning experiences will take place.
Learning in class or learning at home? Again the answer will be both. Even the bathroom can be another classroom if we follow the Polish startup founders of FunBrush.
What will we do with all these ideas and innovations? More than 125.000 education apps are available. Some help to learn better, faster, longer than others. This is the case of two OEC startups’ apps: Think with Things, that promotes the power of ‘everyday objects’ for thinking or GroupMooc that helps to organize on-line learning experiences in a cooperative way. We just have to choose the best and the problem often starts there! The Educational App Store can help us identifying the very best apps and certifying them so that we don’t have to remember which app is the best…
A last thought; what if we didn’t need to remember to learn? My friend Yaacov Hecht used to tell the story of this young child that once entered his democratic school in Israel and was only interested in windsurfing. With no learning analytics and no apps, Yaacov designed a personalized learning path that enabled him to learn about wind, streams and practice a lot of windsurf. He ended up with a gold medal in the Olympics… He still remembers it.
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