Published on April 6th, 2009 | by Babar Bhatti0
Extreme Learning – Leapfrogging to Learning 3.0
E-Learning Series: By Phil Cruver, President of KZO Education
Learning 1.0 was about the delivery and management of online courses usually consisting of downloading text-based materials and perhaps the streaming of lengthy videotaped lectures for anytime and anyplace viewing. Learning 2.0 leveraged the vast array of interactive and collaborative Web 2.0 technologies and concepts such as social networks, wikis, podcasts, and blogs with user-generated content as the cornerstone. Learning 3.0 is now appearing on the evolutionary path, which when coupled with emerging digital distribution networks and mobile computing technologies, has the potential to revolutionize education.
In a recent meeting with senior strategists at Intel Corporation, they made it clear that “global extreme learning” and the challenges of its “massive scaling” have been on their radar for years. These articulate and seasoned technology strategists confessed that that they are struggling with defining the composition of extreme learning tools and the supportive ecosystem that must be developed for scaling global education. They also indicated that Learning 3.0 could be the missing link between two of Intel’s major initiatives: WiMAX for wireless broadband access and Atom microprocessors for next generation computing devices.
So what is Learning 3.0 and what technologies will shape its emergence and evolution? Consider: There are 455 WiMAX deployments underway in 135 countries covering over 430 million people and despite the slowing global economy, at least 100 more operators will deploy additional wireless networks this year. Atom chips are fueling the exploding market for low-cost, low-powered Netbooks, which will grow 66% this year to more than 27 million units and is expected to continue at breakneck rates.
Intel has committed $100 million annually for global education and has a huge footprint in Pakistan claiming to have trained 175,000 teachers in this nation with illiteracy exceeding half its population of 175 million – the 6th most populated country on the planet. Coincidentally, Pakistan possesses the first nationwide WiMAX network covering over 22 cities, making it ideal for showcasing how emerging market countries can leapfrog directly into next generation learning technologies.
Could extreme learning with new computing tools and digital distribution technologies assist and advance education in Pakistan? The recent announcement that a national curriculum will be approved in six months for introduction to the classrooms in 2010 may require a back-up strategy. Political risks and bureaucratic delays are inevitable and the costs and logistics for printing and distributing millions of traditional textbooks, vulnerable to obsolescence, are staggering.
According to USAID: “In Pakistan, the cost of teacher professional development is 25.5 times the cost of training a secondary school student. Producing low-grade teachers at such a high cost is a matter of concern”. It is estimated that there are about 1.4 million teachers in Pakistan, which must be doubled if universal education is to be achieved. Therefore, rather than continuing to incur “High Per Capita Cost for Low Grade Teachers”, with advanced and affordable streaming video technologies, lectures from top Pakistani teachers could be recorded for distribution over the Internet resulting in a quality education for millions of students.
WiMAX broadband connectivity to the Internet, coupled with Netbooks, would provide the infrastructure for producing and archiving quality video lectures for teacher professional development. This could serve as a scalable solution for augmenting education in Pakistan with access to the latest and best classroom practices and also provide a parallel back-up strategy.
Netbooks promise to debut this summer at $99 and at $10/school/month, all 25,000 public secondary schools in Pakistan could have access into a “Window on the World” with WiMAX/EDGE. At $3 million a year on a capital investment of about the same amount, this would be a pittance to pay for access to a global world of knowledge where traditional textbooks cannot compete. Furthermore, Learning 3.0 may provide the only opportunity to rapidly scale quality education for millions of Pakistanis wishing to compete in the 21st century global economy.
About the Author: Phil Cruver is President of KZO Education, a provider of comprehensive digital communications and training solutions for government and commercial clients. He is a serial entrepreneur, founder of three start-up companies, and has served as CEO of two public companies. Phil recently visited Pakistan and welcomes those who are interested in assisting education in Pakistan to join this Social Network.