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Re-Imagine Learning: Piecing together

Learning is gaining knowledge via experiences or studying or being taught; lets bring all those together.

Photo of Aakar Mehra
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I am a.....

  • Student
  • Coach, ex-teacher, engineer, ideator, designer.

Tell us about your idea

For several years the education system has run on the K-12 grades, creating a step by step platform for students to pass and standardize learning experience across the board. There are a lot of positives that we have seen that this system brings, but in these trying times, we have recently realized that the system had some hidden flaws.

The first image below shows the current approach of the flow of our grade school system. Each dot is a gateway to the next grade that the student has to pass and teacher pushes the student to learn the required material, while trying their best to make the experience interesting/fun. In the end, as long as the student passes the final exam, he/she is considered to be educated for that grade, whether or not they will retain that information. 

borrowing experiences

1. Educators experiences in teaching and relation building

2. Boys Scouts of America & Girls Scouts of the USA

3. Gamifying education and incorporating sports team culture

4. Concepts of Blockchain in education systems

5. Developing practical life skills

6. Utilizing tech companies remote platforms

7. Helpful community people and organizers


The second image below, shows the new strategy for our education system that utilizes some of the prior system specifics but with additional elements as mentioned above. Instead of 12 grades through our education career, we use the three tier system of Elementary, Middle and High School. Each of these tiers will be divided into 4 years each, similar to what we have today. Instead of going through the same process of learning/cramming each year to pass a test, this new system will allow for a less stressful approach to learning while giving educators a chance to verify that knowledge has been gained. The 4 years of high school, will be somewhat similar where, they will be divided in 4 parts and have more structured learning. 

Borrowing a few ideas from gaming/e-sports and Boys/Girls Scouts of America, we can come up with a format where the students are required to earn certain number of 'badges' in each 4 years to be able to move to the next tier. Educators will follow up on students through the year, providing tasks that have badges assigned to them. The current curriculum can be put into specific 'categories', like science, mathematics, social science, arts, communication, technology, language etc. Each of these categories can have sub-categories that can be called 'section', which are divided into 'levels' that students have to cross. To cross each level there will be a certain number of 'badges' that each student requires. Passing each level/section/category will 'unlock' the next couple. Creating this analogy from the gaming world allows the students to keep a level of competition and fun at the same time. 

Piecing together concepts from Blockchain and team based culture in the new strategy, we make rules that to complete each 'section' students have ask their peers to verify their levels crossed so far. In addition there can be 'badges' for team/group activities. Building trust and cross checking others achievements will create a certain team bonding and social interaction necessary for life. In a similar way, each students parent/caregiver will have to help earn a few 'badges' that allow for their kids to move forward. These 'levels'  for parents will provide enough information to them about the progress their child has made. 

equitable:

It is important to be inclusive while creating a new format. In this case, learning is not time dependent but provides the student with ample time to finish their levels, sections and categories. Educators can keep a tab ('health monitoring') on the number of levels/sections unlocked in each category. This format will definitely allows students to learn remotely from their homes and also provide enough time to make up on badge collection.  

School infrastructures provide labs, equipment, computers, lunch and many other things along with education. To make this equitable during a crisis, it is important to leverage some of resources from various industries. Each company tries to keep up with the latest technology in computers, laptops, hardware, etc. That means a lot of the old hardware is either sent back to the manufacturer or is thrown in trash. It is important to implement a Circular Design solution for these equipment for students that are in need. 

scalable:

The new format is definitely scalable into all regions of the world. The issue of course being ability to provide enough motivation to students and enough teachers that can assist students. This system will help elementary and middle school teachers to easily teach specific subjects instead of teaching all in the same year. It also makes it easy for teachers to share their knowledge across the globe via remote learning platforms. 

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

Each system has its pros and cons. From the pre-COVID system, I would like to leave behind the structured yearly examinations, learning only to pass the test, limiting our students creativity by forcing cramming knowledge and restricted learning from teachers in one small area. This crisis has shown us that we do not have limit ourselves to the standard ways of learning. There are more creative ways that we can teach our younger generation. The change that we'll make and show in these times, is what will allow them to build a stronger society for themselves in the future. The overall idea for school is to make sure students are learning. We verify that by making sure the teachers are teaching and doing their jobs; And that is verified by making students take tests every few months. The whole process seems to remove the creativity from learning anything new. We can find more than one way to ensure that students are learning and teachers are doing their jobs.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

I am a research engineer, a sport team coach, used to be a part time teacher and I am always interested in learning new techniques and skills (student). In my early education life in India, I was never interested in learning anything and now since I have realized what all learning can be and do for me, I feel that we need to re-imagine the education system to ensure creativity and skill development.

What region are you located in?

  • North America

Where are you located?

Ypsilanti, MI. Its a small college town with amazing people and students all over. It is the neighboring town to Ann Arbor.

3 comments

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Spam
Photo of David Enders
Team

Thanks for contributing, Aakar!
It seems like you are suggesting a system based much more on choice and electives than the current system is. I can definitely see how that would allow for students to explore their own interests more, and focus less on what is prescribed for them by education authorities. To me, it is very frustrating how students are pressured into taking traditional paths, attending college, etc., while that approach can't be the right one for everyone. Increased flexibility and room for exploration in the schooling system would be much appreciated. I hope you move forward with this idea!

David

Spam
Photo of Aakar Mehra
Team

Hi David, thank for your comments. In my opinion, the choice that students will get is how to manage their time and what they give priority to, given that they get a longer time to go through the learning process. I hope we can move forward with this idea as well. Forcing students to learn in the traditional path squashes their creativity and hopefully this will provide them skills to develop creative skills.

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