Fab Fridays 8: From Brick and Mortar Schools to Online Education

Why Online Education will have a groundbreaking impact in the way future generations learn

Hello from Panama!

With the coronavirus outbreak, many schools around the world have temporarily shut down and turned to online education. 

Since I’ve been exploring this approach for some time now, I wrote a tweet storm explaining why I believe online education will have a groundbreaking impact in the way future generations learn. 

You can check out the entire thread and comments here.

  1. The old classroom model no longer makes sense in the digital age
    “It’s a fundamentally passive way of learning, while the world requires more active processing of information”—Sal Khan, founder of The Khan Academy

    In school, kids are passive imitators
    Online, kids are active creators 

  2. Personalized learning experiences at scale
    New software tools make it possible to adapt content around the e-learner's interests, pace, and ability.

    We are moving away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to learning toward a more personalized, self-directed & flexible approach. 

  3. There is absolutely NO need to lock kids in school for 7 hours a day
    With quick delivery cycles and fewer distractions, learning time is significantly reduced with online education. The result? More freedom to play, explore, socialize with other kids, and pursue other interests.

  4. Learning is a social experience, which is why live online instruction is better than self-paced courses.

    "You can’t just download information. You have to wrestle with ideas and make them your own” —David Perell

    Synchronous online courses are designed for social interactions.

  5. Technology is transforming the way we *connect* and build relationships

    With platforms like Zoom, students can establish emotional connections with teachers and like-minded peers from all over the world.

  6. The internet is setting the stage for lifelong learning
    It’s a place where kids can give free rein to their curiosity and natural love of learning.

    Online, kids have access to the best tools, ideas, and people that can help them thrive in whatever path they choose. 

As expected, I had enthusiasts who resonated with my views and skeptics who expressed fear and confusion. 

Skeptics worry primarily about: 

  • The antisocial impact of a child spending “hours in isolation learning from a computer” (misconception that I clarify in this email) 

  • Where would parents send their kids for most of the day while they work (I share solutions to this in this email as well)

From Brick and Mortar Schools to Online Education

Our compulsory system of schooling interferes with children’s natural way of learning. 

The things that kids learn through their own initiatives cannot be taught in other ways, yet we insist in locking them into an abnormal environment that leaves little room for free play.

In school, kids spend most of their day sitting down quietly, following adult orders, and learning from an adult-imposed curriculum. When they finally get home, homework and extracurricular activities eat into time that would otherwise be available for play.

Kids don’t have time to be kids anymore.

Disturbed by this reality, I’ve been searching for an alternative approach that gives kids back the time and freedom they need to grow and develop their full creative potential. I believe that live online courses provide a flexible alternative and, contrary to popular belief, opportunities for social growth.

There are certainly many ineffective online courses, just as there are poor classroom experiences. The medium used to deliver the class content isn’t nearly as important as the learning approach (learn more about the different online education approaches here.)

With live online courses, children learn and interact with teachers and peers in virtual social spaces. Students collaborate, share, and build on each other’s work through high quality video calls and interactive webinars. It’s hard to explain how different online education is when its live. It’s one of those things that you need to experience or witness in order to understand. Here are some examples of online courses/schools that use a synchronous (or hybrid) approach:

The flexibility of an online education frees up time for kids to learn and socialize outside the structured environment of a school. With quick delivery cycles and fewer distractions, learning time is reduced to a few hours a day. Kids have the rest of the day to play outside, socialize with other kids, and pursue other interests.

This is the kind of future I envision for my kids.

Visionary entrepreneurs have realized that this opportunity exists and are opening full-time creative centers that offer numerous activities for kids— from sports, arts, music, photography, to coding, video-editing, and digital design. These also solve a big issue for parents who want to educate their kids through alternative methods but have less flexibility at work.

This week’s resources:

Inspired by these three books, I’m designing a unique online learning experience for children around playful experimentation + creative learning + social collaboration + passion-driven learning.

Stay tuned :)

Until next week!

Ms. Fab