Education innovator and professor of computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Anant Agrwal, recently presented a TED talk outlining the critical importance of incorporating online courses as part of an effective learning strategy in the digital age.
Agrwal says that, aside from the innovation of the printing press and the production of text books, mainstream educational methodologies haven’t really changed in the past 500 years – but everything else has. The rise and rise of digital technologies have fundamentally changed the ways in which people interact, communicate, and learn.
We have more access to more information in a more timely way than ever before, and Agrwal believes that educators can and should be using new technologies “to transform education in form, scale and access”. He argues that educators need to “reimagine and reinvent” what has traditionally been thought of as the ‘classroom’ and embrace ‘anywhere, anytime’ learning that allows students more opportunities to self-pace, revisit and interact with their learning.
As an advocate of active learning, Agrwal subscribes to the view that “learning and retention is related to the depth of mental processing” (Craik and Lockhart, 1972). In his view, digital platforms offer an ideal forum for this kind of enhanced student engagement through demonstrations, interactions, and tasks. The ability of online course designs to provide instant feedback further improves the quality and effectiveness of the learning experience and helps turn “teaching moments into learning outcomes”.
While Agrwal still sees a place for face-to-face contact in the educational sphere, he is adamant that in the 21st century educators must embrace more comprehensive digital education solutions as an integral part of an effective learning strategy. According to Agarwal, online courses are the “next generation textbook” transforming education “from books to tablets, from classrooms to computers, from bricks and mortar to digital dormitories.” Argwal says, “I see online learning as a rising tide that will lift all boats”.
If you’d like to find out more about how to best include digital education solutions in your learning strategy, or to view our current library of online courses, contact us or you can also view Anant Argwal’s TED2013 talk in full here.