The New Face of Education (LINC Conference, 25 May 2016)

If education is a way for young people to learn to analyse, empathise, and verbalise, then this was proved manifold on the last day of the LINC (Learning International Networks Consortium) Conference held at MIT, USA, 23-25 May 2016, when four MIT students presented their views on various online course platforms.

Cody shared a moving story of poverty, neglect, a teacher’s belief, grit, passion, and eventual academic success. His advice to the creators of Digital Learning Technologies: allow for the kind of investment that one teacher put in him, allocate better funds for teacher salaries and incentives, and keep bringing knowledge to all in an accessible manner.

Anna narrated how she would send personalised messages to the students she tutored, motivating them to study. Her advice to the course makers: do not repeat lectures in your online courses; reduce the load by allowing students to teach, and to post their teaching videos; and design for the building of experiences and relationships that help students engage better, academically.

John spoke about how MITx courses enabled him to learn coding as a high school student and to show off his video gaming abilities to friends. He offered an important insight: a high percentage of students do not complete online courses because they are still discovering their goals, and so the figures do not tell the whole story. Rachel emphasised the value of group work, and talked about online courses being a Mecca of sorts for students like her, who came from poorly run schools.

At the end of the moving, inspiring, thought-provoking presentations, Prof Sanjay Sarma of MIT succinctly put into words what many of us were feeling – that the eloquence and analysis of these students make us believe that the future is in good hands.

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