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Solving education in just one easy step!

Education Speculation very near future Google equality of opportunity

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14 replies to this topic

#1
Alislaws

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Warning: more than one step!
 
Not sure if I have discussed this anywhere else, but I have some thoughts about what seems to me to be a very achievable method of improving the availability of education across a country. Interested to see if anyone can see any major obstacles or objections, before i start sending letters to my MP or whatever  :biggrin:
 
I will be using the united kingdom as an example, but I don't see any reason a similar thing could not be achieved elsewhere.
 
This project would require cooperation between:
  • The UK Govt.
  • Google
  • All UK educational institutions and a significant % of educators
  • the examination boards of the UK: AQA, OCR, CCEA, WJEC, SQA and Pearson Edexcel.
  • The BBC (Publicly funded broadcaster)
 
The basic idea:
  • Google sets up a blank version of youtube for example Youtube.edu.uk or similar.
  • Every school in the UK which receives Govt funding or tax breaks would be encouraged (to some degree) to record at least one complete set of lessons covering the whole syllabus for each subject (maybe less for very small schools) The BBC might be asked to assist with this, perhaps by working with the highest rated schools to produce higher quality videos.
  • This collection of millions of videos would be uploaded to youtube.edu and monetised with advertising like any youtube video. The money would go to google, and to the school and/or teacher.
  • Limits would be placed on the type of ads being run so that they are suitable for children and also not distracting, (advertising some new shiny videogame to someone struggling to concentrate on revising for their exams is just unhelpful!)
  • You could then use machine learning to guide students to the videos that are most likely to help them improve. At its basics a "people who learn like you learn preferred this video" sort of thing.
  • You could allow children to share their results with their teachers, so teachers could see where they were having difficulties and provide 1-1 instruction. Aggregated anonymous data could provide real-time info on educational performance across the UK to ministers etc.
  • Exam boards of the UK would provide Google with detailed syllabus for all UK qualifications
  • Course structures would be set up, each video could be broken down into individual topics which are then linked to the relevant section of the syllabus.
  • This provides a great resource which should allow any motivated student in the UK to complete their education to a good standard regardless of the quality of education they have access to in their area, or with their family's wealth.
  • To improve the system Exam boards could provide sample exams, past exams, mark schemes etc.
  • Each section of the syllabus could have multiple choice and short answer questions available for people to test themselves.
  • For practicing long essay questions and any coursework type stuff you would need human markers (at least for the next decade or so) you either charge a small fee to the student, or to the government, or Google could pay for it from advertising $s. If this could be solved then this would also be a useful addition. 
  • Longer term you could get users to wear BCIs and watch videos, and eventually train a teacher AI from that huge dataset, If it could figure out what "learning" looks like It could then dynamically alter the teaching to adapt to the BCI equipped student, making it literally a perfect teacher (although at first all it would be doing is queuing up pre-recored videos from a collection of thousands on each topic.
This looks like a Win/Win/Win/Win/? here!
  • UK Govt gets a better educated population. Win!
  • Schools and teachers around the UK get extra income, and their jobs get easier as students have better support outside school. Win!
  • Exam boards get more stuff to mark which is how they make their money I think? Win?
  • Google gets half the children in the UK logging in regularly and watching ads. Win!
  • BBC gets to earn its absurd license fee by doing something useful! ?

Ideally you then expand it to also include every university in the UK allowing any UK resident to learn anything they want for free if they are willing to put the time in. They could then pay a university to give them exams and mark them and their coursework in order to get an official qualification. Extra source of income for universities. 

 

Obviously you could use companies other than google, you don't have to get the BBC involved etc. but the basic idea: A MASSIVE collection of educational videos covering every school topic, and machine learning systems used to understand and optimise people's learning process is just a good idea. 

 

This wouldn't work for unmotivated students so it wouldn't really 'solve' education, but it would massively improve the chances of children who want to succeed but are held back due to growing up in areas with poor schools etc.


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#2
Raklian

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One easy step?

 

Oh, come on!  :nomention:


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What are you without the sum of your parts?

#3
funkervogt

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It's a great idea. Let me add a few things:

  • For any particular subject or course, recordings should be available of different teachers who use different modes of instruction and different types of examples. This diversity is necessary to match the variety of student learning styles. 
  • The recordings should have high-res audio and video to be as engaging as possible. For whatever reason, low-quality instructional videos can be demotivational. 
  • I 100% agree that the content should be freely available on a simple, user-friendly, well-known website like "YouTube.edu." Having to download a driver, create an account, get proprietary software, or do something special just deters users and creates a point of technical failure. I also completely agree that the contents should be kid-friendly and family-friendly, meaning no educational videos about building weapons or sex techniques. However, to avoid confusion with YouTube.com, I suggest using a different website name, like "YouLearn.com."  
  • Wherever possible, royalty-free digital versions of instructional materials (textbooks, quizzes, tests, homework assignments) should be provided on the website alongside the lecture videos. 
  • There are already large numbers of valuable educational and instructional videos on YouTube that meet the right criteria for inclusion on the educational video site, so there should be an easy way to migrate videos from one site to the other. Just copy and paste an URL. 

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#4
funkervogt

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I have a friend who is an American public school teacher, and it's policy at his school for teachers to create new lesson plans from scratch at the start of each year and to submit them to administrators and senior teachers for approval. They're not allowed to simply reuse lesson plans from past years. It's a terrible waste of time. I doubt that our method of teaching, say, long division, is improving at all anymore, or that any amount of effort will successfully reinvent that wheel. 



#5
Alislaws

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One easy step?

 

Oh, come on!  :nomention:

 

In my defense, it seemed much simpler before I wrote it out!

 

 

It's a great idea. Let me add a few things:

  • For any particular subject or course, recordings should be available of different teachers who use different modes of instruction and different types of examples. This diversity is necessary to match the variety of student learning styles. 
  • The recordings should have high-res audio and video to be as engaging as possible. For whatever reason, low-quality instructional videos can be demotivational. 
  • I 100% agree that the content should be freely available on a simple, user-friendly, well-known website like "YouTube.edu." Having to download a driver, create an account, get proprietary software, or do something special just deters users and creates a point of technical failure. I also completely agree that the contents should be kid-friendly and family-friendly, meaning no educational videos about building weapons or sex techniques. However, to avoid confusion with YouTube.com, I suggest using a different website name, like "YouLearn.com."  
  • Wherever possible, royalty-free digital versions of instructional materials (textbooks, quizzes, tests, homework assignments) should be provided on the website alongside the lecture videos. 
  • There are already large numbers of valuable educational and instructional videos on YouTube that meet the right criteria for inclusion on the educational video site, so there should be an easy way to migrate videos from one site to the other. Just copy and paste an URL. 

All very good points!

 

Youlearn.com is taken apparently, but Youlearn.co.uk looks available!  :biggrin: 



#6
funkervogt

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Youlearn.com is taken apparently, but Youlearn.co.uk looks available!   :biggrin: 

Since this would be a major effort, I'd imagine it should be led by some well-known and deep-pocketed tech companies, government agencies, and educational institutions, and they'd be able to buy "YouLearn.com" and turn it into the sort of website we've discussed here. 



#7
Raklian

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How do we deal with money-grubbing textbook and educational content publishers and authors who want to be paid in royalties?


What are you without the sum of your parts?

#8
funkervogt

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How do we deal with money-grubbing textbook and educational content publishers and authors who want to be paid in royalties?

Tell them to get lost. 



#9
Casey

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I think there's two basic steps, with yours being the first one. 

 

The trade school that I went to had a set-up similar to the one described here. Each semester covered a different subject of Information Technology, with each semester giving us between 100 and 200 videos to watch, whether at class or during our free time. It was a self-paced program that was very leisurely and convenient, but also conveyed the subject matter very clearly. I can guarantee that I wouldn't have retained the material even half as well if the program was in the same vein as middle school and high school - "rush to write down notes from the blackboard that the teacher erases way too quickly, and hope that you understand their explanation the first time around because there's no Rewind button like with videos." 

 

It also allows for a good work-life balance, which kids are just as deserving of as adults. Nightly homework is bullshit in that it doesn't account for students who are either busy or have troubled home lives, and I wish that weekly homework would become the new standard instead. (I wouldn't be opposed to eliminating homework altogether, but I don't see that happening any time soon.)

 

Of course, you mention the caveat at the end that this wouldn't necessarily help unmotivated students, and that's a pretty big caveat since that variety of student likely makes up the majority, or at least it did where I live (Tennessee); a somewhat generous estimate would put those who cared about learning at maybe twenty-something percent. That's part of a societal problem where anything that isn't fun or cool is lame, nerdy, boring, and not worth doing. Kids up through second grade or so are motivated to learn because adults are demi-gods to them and they want to please their teacher by paying attention, and college students are motivated by the fact that the courses they take are much more likely to directly impact their careers, but everyone else in between? School is just something they're forced to sift through on their way to the next thing that matters to them - their next sleepover, their next school football game, their next school dance, their next party. You can lead kids to a good education, but you can't force them to give a shit. I was a pretty lazy and unmotivated student myself, even if my next rush of fun I looked forward to during school hours were more along the lines of the next videogame or the next time I got to browse the internet at home.

 

That's why I think Virtual Reality will play a key role in improving students' attitudes towards school, and win over much of the remaining seventy-five percent. VR is the first ever tool that can really make the 'learning' part of school consistently fun; edutainment games are nice and all (I loved Number Munchers in elementary school as much as any other kid), but they only make up a tiny fraction of the time spent at school. Kids will probably always prioritize fun over anything else. That's why VR is critical, both for the clarity it provides (VR lessons being much easier to understand than most of the textbooks I had in school) and the simple fact that it can genuinely make learning fun and exciting. School lessons won't be "the things we have to sift through before the part that really matters - the last few minutes of class where we're free to talk," but something that's enjoyable in and of itself.


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#10
Outlook

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I think all the information we need to excel in education is already out there, and while it's not so accessible that everyone knows about it, it *is* there. For primary and secondary schooling, you can could use khan academy which provides videos for every subject. Anything past that: MIT opencourseware, Library Genesis, Sci-Hub, Youtube lectures (LOTS of universities put lectures online for free viewing), your local library, etc.

Luckily in the west, education is at a pretty amazing state. Your issues are all monetary, and systemic, and not much to do with education quality. Meta-learning, education theory, and the educational eciences in general are all fields that actually impact the educational sector, and to great positive effect.

What I see an issue with is that education is not integrated enough into culture and society. Most people put aside education as a phase through life or like a prerequisite to finding a good job, and not something that should encompass all of life. To many people, the consequence of education is money, not wisdom or ability.
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The Prophet (saw) said: He who does not thank the people is not thankful to Allah.

 

Summary of the 20th century: https://youtu.be/wmyF-DBIq2I


#11
funkervogt

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I think all the information we need to excel in education is already out there, and while it's not so accessible that everyone knows about it, it *is* there. For primary and secondary schooling, you can could use khan academy which provides videos for every subject. Anything past that: MIT opencourseware, Library Genesis, Sci-Hub, Youtube lectures (LOTS of universities put lectures online for free viewing), your local library, etc.

Right. And the benefit of pooling all the reputable education content onto one, free site like "YouLearn.edu" is that it will be more accessible than any one of those smaller websites you mention. 



#12
Outlook

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Library genesis which provides textbooks (virtually every book actually), and sci-hub which provides scientific articles are both illegal and so cant be used for a thing like a government sponsored website. YouLearn as its currently suggested is essentially just KhanAcademy which already does exist.

The Prophet (saw) said: He who does not thank the people is not thankful to Allah.

 

Summary of the 20th century: https://youtu.be/wmyF-DBIq2I


#13
Alislaws

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The key part of this over existing educational websites is the Govt cooperation. This is needed to get seriously large numbers of alternate videos covering any given subject. The more different approaches and explanations available the more people the automated system will be able to successfully teach.

 

The other bonus to this idea is that it could be integrated with regular learning, which would encourage broad adoption of it. It would also allow more time in real world teaching dedicated to discussion and helping people, rather than spent lecturing. 

 

Every time someone runs into a subject they can't easily understand it will slow them down and above all it will frustrate them. Leading to decreased motivation. 

 

Unmotivated people would be almost impossible to teach through any voluntary automatic method. So anything that lowers success rates for someone on one topic could lower their overall chance of benefiting from the tech. Too many failures and they'd get frustrated and resentful and stop using it.

 

People generally like doing things they are good at, if the system got good enough everyone would feel​ like they are very good at all subjects, because they'd be getting the perfect explanation for them every time a new topic came up. Making everything ​seem easy. That's what would make this so effective. It would be customised for the learning style of every user. 

 

As far as I know khan academy has no systems to understand how you learn and adapt the course to fit your learning style better? I'd be pleased to be wrong on this!

 

EDIT: on the "seriously large numbers" bit there are somewhere around 20,000 schools in the UK, so at any given level (primary, secondary etc.) there could be somewhere around 3k-5k schools, meaning 3k-5k videos on every GCSE subject for example. The majority of educational sites I have seen would be unlikely to have more than a handful of courses covering any single topic. 

 

EDIT 2: Also you could have a new batch of videos every single year if the system was successful. So if you want to know about F=MA for your physics exam, you have 3k explanations available, then 6k, then 9k, then 12k, etc.



#14
funkervogt

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EDIT: on the "seriously large numbers" bit there are somewhere around 20,000 schools in the UK, so at any given level (primary, secondary etc.) there could be somewhere around 3k-5k schools, meaning 3k-5k videos on every GCSE subject for example. The majority of educational sites I have seen would be unlikely to have more than a handful of courses covering any single topic. 

 

EDIT 2: Also you could have a new batch of videos every single year if the system was successful. So if you want to know about F=MA for your physics exam, you have 3k explanations available, then 6k, then 9k, then 12k, etc.

That would be inefficient and the variety would probably confuse users.

 

If you could watch recordings of every Chemistry course taught in a U.K. secondary education school during the last academic year, you'd find that some instructors were better (smarter, more engaging, clearer in speech, fewer mistakes, etc.) than others, and that they collectively formed a "quality bell curve." Moreover, if you cross-referenced the contents of the classroom lessons and assignments, you'd see another bell curve that would indicate which chemistry facts and concepts were taught most often, which almost certainly would indicate which were the most essential. 

 

That being said, the best way to organize the Chemistry course videos would be to find a way to rate them on relevant criteria, and to only show users the very best ones. I'm not advocating paring it down to the point that U.K. pupils can only view course videos from one Chemistry teacher who was rated the best, but limiting it to the top five would probably be optimal.

 

Effort would be made to ensure the top five instructors used different types of examples and assignments and had a diversity of teaching styles, increasing the odds of student success. It's surely the case that the law of diminishing returns applies to this, in the sense that the marginal benefit of adding the nth Chemistry video series by the nth teacher sharply drops, actually hits zero, and might even become negative once the video website starts being cluttered with classroom videos made by bad teachers (e.g. - they make mistakes, or in some way confuse or demoralize student users). 

 

Ideally, it would be considered a great honor to be nominated as one of the top five instructors in the U.K. for a GCSE subject. Your videos would be paired with free student materials, like online textbooks, assignments and tests. 



#15
Alislaws

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Ideally, it would be considered a great honor to be nominated as one of the top five instructors in the U.K. for a GCSE subject. Your videos would be paired with free student materials, like online textbooks, assignments and tests. 

 

Yeah, not to mention your videos should pay from ads just like any other successful youtube video. 

 

 

 

paring it down to the point that U.K. pupils can only view course videos from one Chemistry teacher who was rated the best, but limiting it to the top five would probably be optimal.

The key thing is that not everyone learns the same way, there wouldn't be a number 1 chemistry video that was number 1 for EVERY person. I think you'd get people clustering around the best videos of certain types based on their learning styles. (we could learn a lot about how people learn from this sort of system!)

 

Of your 3000 videos, most of them of them would be poor, or would have another similar but better video, these would eventually almost never show up anywhere.

 

You'd get some videos that were significantly more popular than most, these would fit with more normal/mainstream learning styles. You'd also get a few other peaks around different teaching/learning styles.

 

The best lecture for me might not be the best lecture for someone with ADD, or someone without dyslexia, so you'd probably get number of videos on any topic that regularly end up being watched. 

 

The best video for someone who is gifted at a subject would be very different from the best video for someone who struggles with it.

 

There are so many factors that could make a difference! We have never been able to really test a lot of them. For example, how much difference does having a teacher with a familiar local accent (that you share) make, compared to having a teacher with a very different accent? Would you find videos that worked best only for people from a certain region?

 

One of the examples I thought of would be a maths teacher who explains mathematics entirely in terms of football (soccer). Every mathematical concept is tied back to football and explained through the idea of understanding football better. This would not work well for me at all, as I don't like football. But I am sure for some british teenagers, this might be the perfect way to help them visualise and understand what's going on.







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