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Education, says W. B. Yeats is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire. Especially in the formative phase of K12 years, it is not the information that teachers imparts to students which matters too much, but rather the personal example, inspiration and relationship based influence which teachers are able to generate on the young and impressionable minds of children.
No matter how advanced the technological support in a learning experience, or how effective the curriculum, it is always the personality of the teacher which is the biggest contributor in our children’s grooming and future development. And here in lies the challenge for the third world: their inability to provision good teachers and role models that can shape their next generations.
It is usually the case that the most vibrant, motivated and well educated people in third world societies conclude that their personal development, career growth and better standard of living are all obtainable in developed western countries, which results in their high rate of immigration abroad. But this results in a general decrease in the human resource quality in all strata of the society, including education and teaching.
The result is that quality of education in third world countries has gone from bad to worse. Firstly, they do not have funds to provision good quality teachers for their schools. And secondly, even if flushed with foreign aid or government funds, they simply cannot find the human resource for the purpose.
A number of times governments have tried to lure this talent back by offering artificially high salaries, living conditions simulating western University towns, and other perks, but projects generally fail to sustain because it is unnatural to require a person to forgo his own growth and development, for sake of others. This project recognizes this challenge and constructively tries to develop a workaround that can result in a win-win situation for everyone involved, the students as well as the teachers.
The main idea here is that people working in western nations have a strong desire to contribute back to their home countries and the betterment of their societies, but need the means of doing this in such a way that it does compromise their careers and personal lives. So going back is not an option for them. And passing up on this invaluable resource of expatriates or ex-citizens is not an option for their parent societies. Hence, the need for this project, where we apply an innovative solution to the problem: Crowd Sourced education.
By leveraging modern IT infrastructure and connected classroom facilities, an area in which Dell specifically specializes in, we will develop a platform through which people in USA can impart direct education to students in their home countries. Some specific features of the project will be as follows:
a) Allow teachers to “plug-in” to the system at their own schedules, similar to the new mobile workforce paradigm in IT
b) Employ advancements in connectivity and instructional software to make this experience simulate real life availability of the teachers
c) Experiment with different instructional models from close-knit year long assigned teaching engagements, to Ted-talk style one off lecture delivery
d) Especially focus on educated non-working spouses to make use of their free time and take up responsibility of educating people, along the way bonding with them for life-long mentorship
e) Bridge the cultural divide between social classes by exposing the poorest people in rural areas to be mentored and trained, or at least just briefly come in contact, with successful, educated professionals in the US.
f) Leverage huge cost benefit by converting what is considered a very expensive proposition of employing foreign qualified teachers into a voluntary activity taken up willingly and for free.
Distance education, e-learning and connected classrooms are not a new concept at all. It is already successfully deployed around the world and very mature technologies and best practices have been developed. However, what makes this project unique is that it is reversing the teacher-student relationship of traditional distance education.
E.g. in a typical distance educational college degree, like we see a central organized body of teachers, employed by an institution of learning, and then different distributed students attach to this hub. In our proposed model, the fixed central body are the students of a school, where as it is the teachers that are distributed. In traditional virtual education, it is the students that leverage IT to log on from their homes and listen to the lectures offline. In our model, it is the teachers who are virtual, offline and off-time, while the students are in some poor rural distant place, coming together into a school representing an island of “connectivity” to the world, and a focus of their hopes and dreams, from where they get a world view entirely different from what they can ever imagine to experience.