If you were to break things down to their simplest component, the higher education experience is very simple: you go to school, take notes, learn, and then prove your knowledge via assignments and exams.
However, this simplistic view fails to capture the beauty and complexity of what many call their best years. Going to college is an all-encompassing experience that can be rightly marked as a milestone in your life.
So, given that you will spend fours years learning, why not make it as interesting and stimulating as possible. Also, the post-graduation market can be highly competitive, so why not use tech to enhance and improve the learning process?
And I don’t mean just purchasing online aid. For example, some students are caught using an essay writing service. While not technically illegal, there are better ways to go about improving your grades.
Throughout this article, we will look at how Microsoft can improve and enhance the learning process.
The future belongs to those who show up. Microsoft has been showing up for decades.
MS has long been a company interested in much more than simply making money. Of course, a capitalist enterprise is their priority, but their orientation is towards the betterment of society.
One could argue that they inherited this characteristic from their founder, but that is a discussion for another time. It seems that MS believes that tech can, and must push forward the need for education innovation.
In plain English: tech is less boring. The faster you can integrate it, the faster you will drive student engagement upwards. Every aspect of the learning process can at least be enhanced by tech, if not entirely revolutionized.
Microsoft in particular has changed the landscape across the globe. The amount of benefit drawn from their software is almost inestimable. Let’s set aside the fact that they made the most popular operating system in the world.
If we were to take Excel alone, it would be hard to imagine a world without its capabilities. The corporate world couldn’t exist without Excel. And that’s just one program.
Sure, someone would copy it if it were to be discontinued, but Microsoft implemented it first.
Facilitation of both online and offline learning
You never know what you are capable of until you have to sink or swim. This is the lesson of human history in general, and the recent pandemic in particular. Even though tech innovation has crept into all sectors of life, it was strange that education was lagging.
Well, not anymore! Like it or not, we all had to accommodate online classes, in the context where cramming 30 people inside a room was simply not possible anymore.
Technology was used to facilitate online communication, as teachers were able to hold classes from the safety of their homes. Yet, this method is not beyond reproach. Online classes lead to very poor grades, retention rates, and a slew of other problems.
We are left with a situation where we have to innovate, yet the complete adoption of online classes is proving to be disastrous.
More than half of students fear that they are unprepared for their current school year. Also, about the same number have developed psychological issues due to the lack of human contact that regular classes would have provided.
Where most ideologies fail is when they do not take into account human nature. It sounds great to move everything online, except the fact that neurons and developing brains need close human contact. That’s just not how neurons work.
A middle ground is necessary. Hybrid education models are supposed to combine the benefits of both home and school-held classes. Microsoft seems to be sitting down and taking notes during this discussion.
Skeptics and optimists both agree that the debate is regarding degree. To some extent or other, education was forever changed by the recent pandemic. For better or worse, education will never return to its pre-2020 state.
The student as the centerpiece
The very first forms of education in history were represented by tutoring. Someone would instruct one student or a small number of students. This is arguably the most “natural” form of education and the one that is best suited for our needs.
The problem is that tutoring someone is a very expensive process. The need for mass education causes us to de-personalize education and make template-like decisions that by their very design, are supposed to be mediocre.
The school and University system nurtures mediocrity not out of malice, but out of an inherent limitation.
Students are unique because each human being is unique. Parents and tutors are better at tailoring their approach for the anxieties, problems, talents, and personality of one child. Public schools cannot.
Technology promises to bridge that gap. Somewhere along the communication chain, teaching software can customize itself. For example, we are all aware of the fact that some people are more visual learners, while others are more auditive or practical.
Well, you can easily link the visual learner to a series of videos, while the practical types are redirected to an interactive, puzzle-based implementation.
The lesson is the same, the info is identical, but the delivery differs. Profiles can be built, similar to how search engines construct your profile based on your behaviors. Just how advertisements are targeted specifically towards a person, so too can a lesson be molded to fit the needs of children.
Also, in essence, you only need to pay for this once. Once you get the ball rolling, you can easily re-use existing software. The upfront cost can be a little daunting, but things will settle afterward.
Technology has always inspired both hope and fear. It is a very powerful tool whose maximum potential remains untapped.
There are extremes on both sides, with people claiming that a total shift to home classes is possible, while others are saying that tech shouldn’t be involved at all.
In reality, kids will always need an authority figure to look them in the eye and teach them. They will also need classrooms and socialization. Still, mass-producing something, even education, will cheapen it and lower its quality.
This is where tech can shine. It can enhance and polish the process.