“The future is about blending,” she says. “Our online learning courses are traditional, computer-based courses, as you would expect, but we have what we call walk-in clinics. So if someone wants to chat through an issue, they can find a locally-based instructor, pop in, ask questions, get the human interaction.”
It’s easy to take online learning for granted, whether it’s finding how to do something on YouTube or following a free online course from a university.
When educationalists write about Moocs – massive open online courses – it is often about the technical achievement of being able to deliver chunks of higher education courses to millions of online learners. Or else it’s about the economics of universities taking their wares to a wider audience or delivering extra content for their existing students.
But Moocs – a few years after the initial hype about these digital courses – are now teaching people who would otherwise be unable to access lessons.
What these sorts of analyses show is that those countries do well on PISA tests, but their schools have a big advantage in that they operate in a different learning culture; the usual explanation for East Asian academic success is parental attitudes to learning.
There is a shortage of some 300,000 primary school teachers. At the other end of the education journey there is space for less than 20% of all students in Brazil’s highly regarded public universities – the rest pay fees for qualifications of variable quality. In the protests that have swept through Brazilian cities, education is a recurrent theme on placards and in social media.
There are women walking through Accra’s crowded streets performing remarkable balancing acts. They have pyramids of fruit, water bottles and coils of clothing carried in bundles on their head. Their backs are ram-rod straight, their footing certain even in the steaming wet heat of Ghana’s rainy season. But there are other bigger balancing acts facing young women in this West African country. How do they stay in education and avoid pressures such as early marriage and leaving school without any of the basic skills needed for work?
Everything I know from my work supports what Wente is saying… Kids need skills not coddling. Creativity and innovation come from having fluid and automatic basic skills so all their available cognitive space is available.