Like records, cassette tapes, and CDs, textbooks are slowly but surely becoming a relic of the past, and for good reason. Today we can fit every textbook student will need throughout their education on an iPad, Kindle, or laptop.
In fact, digital education has already reached some of the poorest areas of the world. In Cape Town, an NGO called Breadline Africa is working to convert old shipping containers into places for community education use. Each one is being supplied with 15 tablets that include the latest educational programs, apps and digital textbooks.
Michael Goodman, a content manager with Via Afrika, the education company that is spearheading the project recently told the BBC, “I visited one school last week in Limpopo and to see how the kids have responded so positively in working with brand new media has been remarkable. It’s going to be interesting for us to see what the impact will be in a small rural school.”
While schools in poor and rural areas are trying to take advantage of the benefits of digital technology, major universities around the world have been slow to catch on. However, with a funding crisis fast approaching, universities will have to adapt or face tough decisions about their curriculum.
One example of the kind of technological and financial disruption universities are facing are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The average MOOC can be made for about $70,000 or less and be spread all over the world simply by uploading it to the web.
In addition to bringing textbooks to iPads and flipping the classroom on its head with MOOCs, digital technology is also enabling an entirely new paradigm of learning. Adaptive learning, which uses computers as interactive teaching devices to tailor a student’s education to their unique needs, is becoming a reality thanks to advances in technology and the need to increase effectiveness compared to outdated teaching methods.
At Labster, we are doing our part to bring world class lab experiences to students all over the world with the help of digital technology. By flipping the lab and democratizing access for all STEM students, we hope to lower lab costs for universities and give students more ways to learn effectively with digital technology.