Adding Value to the Learning Experience

Over the last few days, I have had several discussions about the use of technology in education.  Every time I discuss it, I form my argument around one central question, how can technology enhance the learning experience?  I think it is important to look at it this way versus how technology might make the delivery of education more convenient.

Without doubt an awesome benefit of Kindles and iPads is the ability to carry thousands of books in one device thus saving yourself the back pain of carrying heavy text books.  While that is a great convenience, it is only a small step in the direction toward leveraging technology in education.  In order to truly make the jump to adding value we need to think about how technology will revolutionize education.

In each conversation, e-books came up as a point of discussion.  The way I framed the argument for e-books was with respect to how e-books might help accomplish things a traditional paperback book could not.  I posed the question, how can we leverage e-book technology to do what traditional text books could never do?

There is a start-up in San Francisco answering this question by “reinventing the way people learn.”  Inkling (@Inkling) is developing e-book apps for the iPad that replace the traditional hardback versions.  However, they revolutionize learning by leveraging the power of the iPad and web-based technology to deliver value that a traditional book never could.  Take an anatomy book for example and imagine having to study the eye.  You would normally see a two-dimensional picture in your book with labels on all of the major parts.  Now imagine being able to rotate that eye three-dimensionally and see it from all angles.  Then imagine being able to blank out all of the labels so you could quiz yourself and simply touch one label to reveal whether your answer is correct or not.  Finally, imagine taking the traditional one-on-one engagement with your book and transcending to a social community of fellow anatomy book owners so that you can see what notes and comments they have made.  And although this isn’t a feature yet, I can only imagine eventually students will be able to tap into a social network of experts, authors, and students to discuss and debate contents of the book.

Ahhh!  I get so excited talking about this that I could go on and on with ideas for how companies like Inkling can continue to revolutionize learning.  I’ll save it for another post.  Until then, I want to leave you with one question:

How will you use technology to take the learning experience to the next level and accomplish what traditional tools cannot?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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