In previous blogs, I’ve examined the birth of student-centred education.  John Dewey the father of all freethinkers in education influenced several generations of other similarly minded educationalists such as Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and Maria Montessori. Check out the previous blogs: part 1 & part 2.

The second half of the 20th century saw their theories put to practice and curricula around the world in developed countries quickly and dramatically changed.  In the US, the integration of white and African Americans in schools began to gather speed after the Brown V Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas 347 US483 Supreme Court ruling in 1954, which declared all laws establishing segregated schools to be unconstitutional.  This change was also marked by widespread focus on a student’s emotional, physical, and mental development, whilst basic skills such as reading, writing and maths were relegated to second.  It was the Soviet launching of Sputnik 1 in 1957, a huge technological feat and cold war propaganda win for Russia, which jolted educators in the USA back to reality.  They quickly changed policies and gave equal weight to both hard and soft skills.  

In the UK the development of comprehensive schools allowed pupils to receive the support to learn at their own pace, a fundamental principle of student-centred learning.  The first were set up as experiments by London County Council in the mid-to-late 1940s and these quickly produced positive results meaning that today around 90% of secondary schools in the UK are comprehensive.  The comprehensive schooling model allows for equal learning opportunities for as wide a group of children as possible to play to their strengths and advantages.  How those founders of this wonderful model must be turning in their graves after the latest string of Johnson government announcements proclaiming the reintroduction of Latin for all in 2021 as a compulsory subject in the UK state sector! 

The real catalyst which has accelerated all learning and development allowing perfect and individual learning experiences to be had by all in any learning environment has been the rapid increase in the use of educational technology in the past 20 years.  

Whilst pedagogical structure is still vitally important, equal weight can now be placed on modes of learning which are underpinned by VARK learning modes.  Dependent on the individual, different stimulus will affect the overall attainment by any given individual.  Many of the cutting edge and successful AI learning platforms such as Squirrel and Riid Labs, examine a user’s VARK preference and then apply a learning and content model accordingly with astonishing results.

At Makematic we’re obviously involved in the business of producing and distributing educational video content.  Without a doubt there is currently in place a large and sustained increase in the amount of educational video content consumed – it is growing at an exponential rate.  There are currently 500M Youtube views of educational content each day and there are more learning-related videos on Youtube than there are books in the Library of Congress or The British Library.  

Whilst the internet and formats of mass-market media sites influence this, there could also be a major change underway in the way that human beings consume media and that includes the media they consume to learn.  There are a number of current studies and articles which say that we are now living in a more visual world than ever.  I’m interested in whether this increase could be linked to a parallel increase in the adoption and widespread use of student-centered learning. 

In my next blog, I’m going to take a look at some of those studies in-depth and see if any conclusions can be made.

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