Why I designed the Online Live Learning and LiveTutoring

We live in the third industrial revolution era. Its main vector is the digital manufacturing, the additive manufacturing (3D printing) being the most visible component of it. In 15 years the most of the fabrication will be embedded in retail and the diversity will become really huge. Al the digital fabrication device are able to produce any goods they are designed for, what will be really transacted in the third revolution economy is the intellectual property. This means that innovation, creativity and aesthetics will become soon the goods that will monetize the most inside the manufacturing chain. And this is changing a lot the big picture.

The today educational system was designed in the beginnings of the first industrial revolution. It was designed to fulfill the needs of that day’s economy. And these needs were to have more and more people working in factories, knowing very well several operations to be done and using their knowledge lifelong. The school was modelled based on the most successful entity of those times: the factory. The keywords of this educational system are: universality, uniform curricula and uniform development. But the factory is disappearing and the keywords that we need today seem to be access, adapted curricula and personal development. And most of all the debureaucratization of the learning process.

When I am talking about access I have in mind something that the need of diplomas added to the today educational model. I am talking about the taking out of the professor’s importance in the most of the distance learning models and trying to replace it with books or movies. My strong belief is that learning is a social process. It is like exploring together. Taking out the professor from the learning process is like taking out the guide from an expedition team. The first model of the learning as a social process was established by Socrates and it is well illustrated in Plato’s dialogues. But probably the most synthetic phrase that speaks about it was told by Galilei in his “You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.” And this is a social process that needs the actors to be face-to-face and explore together a common subject. It is not a turned-based strategy game but a real-time one, because during a learning session the most important things are the questions and the emotions. As we are so different and sometimes not very compatible, a key issue in learning is to create a learning community where people optimally work together. Today, this is driven by luck but breaking down the geographical barriers this may be driven by naturality.

This access issue was the first thing I had in mind when I designed the concept and the software. As the videoconferencing is solving the problem of seeing and hearing each other, I concentrated on the collaboration in reading/writing/drawing and I solved it at technological level. Just that access doesn’t mean only sending bytes over the Internet. The learning environment should look as natural as possible. In that environment the miracle of learning takes place and having intrusive objects that you should concentrate on is harming all. So I designed virtual objects that we are used with in the face-to-face traditional learning as the blackboard of the classroom or the notebooks. And I interfaced them in a quite natural manner too so they look and feel as close as possible to the real ones. Regardless we talk about private tutoring or learning in classrooms, all should look familiar and make people feel comfortable with. Many people asked me why I don’t have typewritten text on the blackboard. And my answer is that it is unnatural to learn using typewriters. Sure, we can import a PowerPoint presentation and write on it. It is as we have a flipchart sheet that was printed before and we write on. Or we can annotate pictures or movies that we may place on the blackboard, which imitates things that we use to augment our face-to-face learning as well.

I mean that if you want just to write on the blackboard, it looks like this:

LT5

It is a blackboard with two pieces of chalk and a sponge. Well… in the classroom I am using a secondary blackboard for where I keep persistent some partial results. So I took it here as well as a left curtain. And this is all that the learning community needs to use for a traditional-like learning with the participants in different locations.

If you want more than traditional learning, you can take the advantages that e-learning brought in augmenting the learning process. But in augmenting it and not replacing the professor and the live interaction during the learning session. That’s why LiveTutoring has four different repositories to bring virtual learning objects: one that is embedded in the cloud area where the servers are hosted, another one on the local system where the client application is running, the third one in the private Drop Box account of each participant and the forth one in the public area of YouTube. Of course, Internet is a huge knowledge repository. To access it without a keyboard, we have a handwriting recognition feature that enables you to search the Internet for the topic you are interested in and bring it into discussion.

And if you need some external applications to be used inside the learning process, you can share any of the applications that are on any of the participants system, letting all the participants to interact and collaborate on that application. The result may be snapshot and moved on the blackboard of the classroom.

These features add some e-learning capabilities without harming what is essential in the learning process: live interaction and less intrusion of the system in the learning process.

The many ways in which you can save the content generated during the learning session enables the private tutoring, the social learning and the online school. For example, you can save the learning session in a static mode as a pdf file or posting it on the Facebook wall. But you can also have it saved in a proprietary format where each action is time stamped to be replicated in the order and with the time intervals with the other actions done during the learning session. This format is mixed with the voice automatically, but it may be mixed with the videoconferencing recording to produce a MOOC like movie.

I tried to mix these three major learning methods (the face-to-face one with e-learning and MOOC) and combine them with the idea of geographical delocalization and the presence of all the actors in the same moment, acting in the most interactive way possible. And this gives access. Access to the most important learning resources: a learning community that interacts synchronously regardless where the members are located.

An adapted curriculum is the most difficult step to be done. It supposes that the curricula will be no more decided by the learning bureaucracy. And there is something even more difficult to make this thing widely accepted: it supposes that the family or the students must assume responsibility for the decisions of going into one or another learning community. We are no more talking about national tests, we are no more talking about state assumed diplomas but about a free learning market that may create a huge variety of skills and is highly competitive. This gives to each student the chance to be in the proper learning community and to develop his/her own native skills, to have access to the teachers that fit the best his/her own learning style and to be out of any geographic captivity.

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