There have been numerous websites and platforms emerging over the past few years that have set out to rock the educational establishment. Whether it’s Khan Academy or MOOCs, there are changes in how education is produced and consumed. Several of these approaches have pooled together to create the potential for flipping the classroom, whereby lectures are consumed by students at home, with class time then devoted to understanding and digesting that content with a highly trained teacher.
Suffice to say, this approach still places a strong premium on the need for a good teacher. A new service aims to provide some of the things teachers add to the learning experience, for those without access to one. The platform, called Oppia, is an open source creation courtesy of Google (kind of) that lets anyone create an interactive learning experience online.
The motivation behind Oppia was that much of the online educational content at the moment is asynchronous. In other words, you consume the content that is posted online, but there isn’t much in the way of interaction going on. There’s no dialogue or feedback between you and the teacher.
The site provides a framework for anyone to create interactive learning experiences and bolt them onto their own website. The site does this whilst at the same time adding interactivity to the learning process by taking on the role of the mentor/teacher who is constantly asking questions of the learner. The AI backend will then absorb the responses to these questions and adapt future engagements accordingly.
This (hopefully) rich seam of data is then fed back to the course creator to help them improve the content itself, thus hopefully building into the process a productive feedback loop.
Suffice to say, this isn’t the first time open courseware products have hit the market, but it is one of the first that has built into the system a mechanism for giving feedback to students and feeding that data back into ‘teachers’.
Now, it’s fair to say that Google have a whole lot of balls in the air at the moment, and whilst that diversity can be seen as a strength, it also leaves them stretched quite thinly. It’s unclear therefore just how much attention they’ll devote to Oppia. You have to search quite hard on the Oppia site to actually find any reference to Google at all (it was a 20% time project), so it is far from assured that they will support it extensively. With it being made open source, the hope is probably that the crowd will eventually take ownership of the platform.
It will be a platform that’s very much worth following. Find out more via their YouTube video below.