Thursday, February 05, 2009

Teaching Without Teachers

India has a lot of people to educate. It is trying to work out ways of automating the process. One of those ways is the design of a $20 (US) laptop called the Sakshat.

The Sakshat is planned to boost distance learning so as to allow India to meet its vast educational requirements: It has a huge, largely-poor population, of which over 550 million are younger than 25.

The Sakshat will also fit into a grand plan to boost e-learning at over 18,000 colleges and 400 universities.
Giving every person under 25 a laptop costing $20 is going to cost $11 billion dollars. I discussed my vision of a low cost laptop at The $20 laptop.

But that is not where the real cost savings and bottlenecks are. The real cost saving is education without teachers because they cost too much and there are not enough of them.
During the next six years, by some estimates, India will need to create another 1,500 universities. Educational institutions in the UK and US are lining up to become partners to help with this huge projected tertiary-level expansion.

Pressure is building on the government to permit foreign investment into the sector and use public-private partnerships to meet some of the demand. Leading universities across the world, such as Kellogg School of Management in the US and Imperial College in the UK, are exploring different models, including faculty partnerships, distance learning and setting up campuses.

But the government appears to favour turning to technology ahead of international partnerships to bring people into higher education.
Very smart. In a lot of ways it reminds me of what Bucky Fuller saw as the future of education in his book Education Automation.Maybe we can finally do something about the stranglehold of the teacher's unions on education.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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