Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Thoughts on Education

I feel a bit down when getting informed that one of my mid-term test is below average. Honestly, I didn't master that course solidly. I know roughly how it works, but the lack of practice make the foundation very vulnerable.

I recall one of the courses I am currently taking online, a machine learning course taught by Stanford. Surprisely, I master that material much better than the school courses though the difficulty levels between these two courses are similar.Two very important aspects worth highlighting is the weekly online tutorial sets&programming exercises+ the active peer forum learning. I feel uncomfortable if I didn't finish the tutorials&programming exercises with 100% accuracy. This feeling never occurs in the university tutorial classes as I didn't get timely feedback on how well I am doing in the tutorials. But this feeling came very often when I was still in high school in China. Teachers will announce tutorials after each class and we'll have to finish them before the deadline and then get feedback in the next class. This feedback system works efficiently.  However, one problem with this feedback system is that it is highly dependent on the responsibility &efficiency of teachers and this system is not customized for every student.

Doing the supplemental exercises and getting timely feedback seem to be essential for mastering the course materials. I remember one of the seniors in the CS3216 pitch session told us about his experiment of gamifying the learning experience for his secondary students. It works extremely good. The news about Prof.Ben's JFDI Academy also makes me think further on how the web can positively change our ways of learning.  Feedback can come from peers, oneself, teachers, anyone else. The more efficient the feedback system is, the better the learning outcome it would get. For the traditional approach, the role of teachers will have a higher weight than self-feedback+peers feedback. However, I think a better model would be self>reliable resources>peers>teachers>others. The question here is how can we gather all the reliable resources for customization. It reminds me of Google/Quora/Wikipedia. However, these systems are still too generic. A secondary school student will hardly trust these systems if they can find direct help from peers/teachers. A more customized learning community is need to be created for customized groups of people

Education is important and it is a long-term project. I'll probably pick a education-related start-up company in Israel to work with. 路漫漫其修远兮

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