What a spectacular day at the Atlantic/Aspen – New York Ideas event on May 7th, a gathering of innovative thinkers and groundbreaking discoverers who monitor trends, create possibilities, and navigate our increasingly globalized 21st century world with excitement and good intention. From the founders of Google to Zipcar to women on Wall Street to a socially conscious eyewear designer with 100% carbon neutral products, the room was buzzing with brilliant minds. And online education, fused with traditional, brick and mortar education – now known as “blended learning” was definitely a hot topic.
As AFS approaches its 100th year anniversary, it is good time to reflect on the valuable advancements our world has made in e-learning, new technologies, and their application in a disparate world – and how AFS will become part of the innovative mix. David Levin, co-founder of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) spoke about serving under-resourced communities with online, open-enrollment, college preparatory schools, and noted the successful interplay between guided and independent practice and strong student retention rates.
Anant Agarwal, President of edX, talked of online courses reaching remote locations. He was asked, “Does e-learning equalize or widen the social divide?” and responded with a scenario of a student in rural Mangalore, India, where university professors are few and far between so are merely required to hold a Bachelor’s degree to teach at this level. Would this student be better off taking an online science technology course at Berkeley from a PhD expert on the topic? Good point.
David Levin asserted that in the long run access to technology and e-learning tools will only serve to democratize education and narrow the gap. However, the importance of great principals and quality teachers alongside e-learning tools is of paramount importance for the best possible results. How can AFS-USA help to promote e-learning in its intercultural programs for students and teachers? An important question to consider.
For more information on blending learning, please see the following helpful resources on the topic: