Turning Learning Into Social Fun
Think for a minute about the progression of education. Can you see a difference in the way you learned in high school and the way your kids learn today? Probably not. The students of today are constantly connected, sharing their experiences and doing everything together. But when they do their homework, they are on their own. Is it any wonder they feel isolated when it comes to learning experiences?
So what is the alternative?
Learning with your friends.
If students enjoy learning together in real life, why wouldn’t they enjoy doing so in the virtual world?
This is exactly the approach theLearnia, a new start-up took, and they are turning the learning process into social fun.
theLearnia is a free social network that took a challenge to change the way students learn and tutors teach. Students spend an average of 700 minutes a month on social networking, so why not turn that into something that will help them learn?
Unlike other social networks, theLearnia focuses on social activities that are related to education in a way that it connects students, classmates, and their teachers, helping them to share knowledge and benefit from existing technology.
It will not surprise anyone if I claim that the students of today enjoy watching movies compared to reading books. They want all the materials processed and to the point. When Smartphones, tablets, and Internet links are all readily available, the best practice is to use short educational videos for education instead of the printed word.
Short videos lessons of different topics that relate to k-12 educational programs are the best way to get the students’ attention. A variety of teachers that teach the same topic in different ways gives the students the freedom to choose the lessons they liked and could best learn from.
The challenge - The biggest educational library for free
To create an educational video library using different teachers that will cover the whole educational program requires a massive money investment and time. This is an ambitious project even for big companies, not to mention a new start-up.
An ever-growing library can only be created by user-generated content. This is also known as the "the wisdom of crowds" and is the basic idea of Wikipedia. theLearnia provides the tool to share your knowledge with others.
Teachers, parents, or anyone who has a knowledge on specific topic and always claimed, "I could have taught that better!" can share their knowledge with the world.
However, how can they guarantee that all video lessons are educationally adequate? The company claims that they have developed a smart statistical engine called "Adaptive-LMS" that take advantage of user inputs to rate the lessons quality, organize the materials under grade, subject, and class, and even track students’ performances and the learning curve. So users from one side upload lessons and from the other side other users reports on it and votes for it.
A complete solution to solve all students' needs? Not yet.
Let's not forget the fun side. After all, this is an essential part of the equation to attract students to invest time, explore, share, and learn. Using the social platform, students can prepare homework together with friends, watch uploaded content together, and share new videos they like with each other.Teachers who upload high quality lessons will understand the benefit of this social network, since the minute it is published, students will share it with others.
Students will also be exposed to complementary materials that are not part of the formal educational program at school but will add another layer of knowledge to help them connect the dots of data into big picture of knowledge.
But, safety first please
In some countries, the ministry of education does not allow students and teachers to communicate via social networks.
To overcome this limitation, theLearnia differs between students and teachers. A teacher is considered as a "content contributor," and his profile is visible to all. Teachers, however, can't ask for friendship from a student and whatever a student does can be shared only among other students.
Learning becomes fun
Having these three layers of a social network, a library of educational videos, and a smart engine to monitor the content seems like the complete solution for students’ needs. Consider the fact that theLearnia is totally free and all you need is a PC with an Internet connection, and here is a great example for equal opportunity in education for every child. Of course, the rest totally depends on the students’ willingness to learn.