New education technology companies across the board have rallied under the “Democratization of Education” banner. No surprise there — making higher education accessible to anyone with a desire to learn and the Internet is an extremely worthy cause, and we subscribe to it, too.
However, access for the sake of access is not our goal.
Making advanced education courses widely accessible is relatively easy; MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), podcasts, webinars and the like consistently do this very well — and they certainly have their place.
For individuals interested in gathering information, these resources are the perfect outlet to sample courses or “sit in” on lectures. Yet, even with certificates of completion (where available), these kinds of education technology resources cannot provide the same student learning experiences and career progression outcomes that degree-granting programs can. (See our discussion of education models online here.)
But to be clear, we’re not interested in helping universities distribute degrees at will either. What’s difficult, and arguably much more valuable, is providing universities the necessary tools and digital infrastructure to establish and run their own online programs in the academic fields where access to real live educators is imperative.
We think of it as facilitating the distribution of insight rather than just information.
We support institutions that aim to teach sets of skills and know-how — particularly those relating to the traditional professions like education, nursing, and business — where the experience and expertise that educators provide is invaluable. Professors offer the difference between info and insight in fields where people still define the criteria for entry.
Just as important, we help universities translate what they do into a more scalable model that reflects their approach to education. This cannot be a one-size-fits-all, tech-driven model. Just as different educators make the same material come alive in different ways, different academic institutions do, too.
HotChalk helps make that happen, using technology the way it’s supposed to be used, as a tool in service of a desired objective, rather than as an objective in and of itself. This is how we can achieve objectively better outcomes for students and universities alike.
Democratizing education is an important first step in creating a world where anyone anywhere can pursue their full academic potential. But as education technology matures, it’s essential that we move beyond broad access to broad insight, and most importantly, broad results.