Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The future of education; education as our future?

While researching my previous post on Teachstreet, I came across Edufire.

While Teachstreet generally focuses on offline 'extracurricular' learning (e.g. cooking, music), Edufire offers online video classes (mainly based around languages or exam preparation).

Seeing Edufire in action got me thinking about Chris Anderson's answer to the annual Edge Question, "What will change everything?" - that a web-empowered revolution in teaching will change everything by unlocking the potential of a higher proportion of the world's population.

Anderson suggests that knowledge and inspiration will be the catalysts for this 'great awakening' of human potential

    If you learn of ideas that could transform your life, and you feel the inspiration necessary to act on that knowledge, there's a real chance your life will indeed be transformed.

    There are many scary things about today's world. But one that is truly thrilling is that the means of spreading both knowledge and inspiration have never been greater

Anderson is the founder of TED, which clearly aims to offer inspiration, while Edufire is looking to provide the knowledge element of the equation

Certainly Edufire is still in its early stages - the class focus remains very narrow, the audience is unlikely to be children in Africa overlooked by traditional education. But the potential is there.

If companies like Edufire can develop a sustainable business model, then the global rollout of online education may be only delayed by technological limitations, and as Anderson says, "a young girl born in Africa today...might just end up being person who saves the planet for our grandchildren"


  1. You should definitely join us next week for eduConference 2! TeachStreet will be presenting as well and it's always great to get like minds together about such an important topic.


    Joseph Sunga
    Community Developer, TeachStreet.com

  2. As a huge Edufire (and TED) fan, I've gotta say that I think you're right. Spreading education in a global way, in a way that makes deep and lasting impact, is one of the great boons of the internet. I look forward to watching Edufire succeed here.

    Side note: I think that while more and more of us spend time learning online, there's also this yearning and desire to reconnect with our neighbors and our communities and to the folks down the street who we tend to walk by without introducing even ourselves. We've become quite insular, no?

    That said, one of the best parts about the web is that is CAN be used to break out of our computer-based worlds and connect with folks we'd never have otherwise met by finding them online (great examples are Meetup.com, Match.com and of course, TeachStreet.com).

    Looking forward to seeing you online!

    Katie Gruver
    Community Manager, TeachStreet.com

  3. Thanks for your comments. I agree with Katie, I don't think that pure online education will replace the classroom.

    As well as our desire to meet up and interact offline, the benefits of face-to-face collaboration are well documented.

    Indeed, maybe this is the next challenge for the online education community - to create an online community (with social networking technologies) in order to try and overcome these hurdles.