I've been thinking about this idea for a while now, about how one would explore educational materials into their own Modular curriculum.
Of course this is because of my endeavor of the Modular Degree (Modegree), which is for anyone. Even though I often say it is for those people who are just starting out in their higher education journey, or those wanting to pivot careers; I do really think there is an application for anyone, even k-12. How that might work is something I'm still exploring, and I thought this blog post would be a great food for thought. For not only myself when making it, but for you reading it as well.
The point behind an exploration system is to be able to find what YOU are looking for/wanting, even when you may not know what you are looking for in the first place.
Great examples are like YouTube, Netflix, Steam Game Store, or something of the sort. Entertainment is a big industry, so of course there are advancements in the algorithms for those. Although it is about time we do something for education.
I really like the work that classcentral.com is doing, but alas that is only courses! I did still want to give them a shoutout however.
Why is Exploration Important?
Knowing what you like isn't as simple as trusting your gut. Sure sometimes intuition plays a huge part, such as the color scheme of a webpage may make you scroll down or click away, the image and text on a video thumbnail will convince you to click, and matters such as these. Where it is all based on visual intuition, but for the most part it is a matter of experience and knowledge.
If you are taking a course for a while, or watching a series, there is a good chance you'll start to notice whether or not you like it. Then you decide you will quit, or keep going, as we only have so much time in the day. Let alone life as a whole!
The things you explore, and more importantly experiment with, then those become what are the foundations for your life skills. Everything you know came from somewhere, so let's take what the future you will know, and sow the seeds now. With the RIGHT materials.
How Could and Algorithm or App like that Work?
It is probably very likely a complex information architecture algorithm is needed for something like this. The CEO from Classcentral even told me at one point that he was curious about I.A., as there are a lot of organizational aspects to running a site like that. Which makes perfect sense, and also because of a great mind like his is probably why the site has grown so much.
Here is the deal: the ideal learning application though would have to do more than just courses. Imagine combining classcentral with, say, feedly, an archive for youtube video links, podcast episode directory, and perhaps even a scribd integration. All of which still don't include everything, and how does that not only work from an API standpoint/technical view; But as well as a categorization aspect as well. How does one organize all of that information. Not only to judge quality in a macro sense, but in a micro sense even get it to the user?
One could go mad thinking about it, and perhaps I will!
The platform would need to have a minimalist interface, this is because it needs to balance the sheer complexity behind it. Think of it like "Hulk", in one form he is a brute who is infinitely powerful, and in another he is a rather frail person with immense intelligence. It isn't until he becomes Professor Hulk, that he shows his true form. Taking the brain and muscle, and putting them together.
What are the challenges?
For one the regulatory factor, for there is sure to be a ton of push back for a system that would make traditional schooling obsolete. In all seriousness it has that potential, even if it was adopted by them wholeheartedly.
In addition to just staying alive when the "wolves" come so to speak, there is the concept of accreditation. I call it a concept, as that is just what it is. The construct we have formed, that is the U.S. accreditation system is just an elaborate way to make more money off of students. Sure there is real work that goes into making sure educational materials are up to par, and making sure it is put in such a way that is conducive to learning.
Totally respect that part of it, but the process takes too long. For one the process can take upwards of two to three years to finish. Then the school has to make it a part of their curriculum. That could take another year, and by the time it happens then the knowledge is outdated. Especially in the exponential economy.
A challenge for an educational app like the one proposed then, is to find a way to make sure the materials are up to par. Or find a way around the idea of confining to an arbitrary construct.
The Modular Education Platform
These are the ideas that are going into the platform/system I am preparing now. Not only is the idea for the app unlike anything truly done before, as only a few have gotten close to the idea. Let alone the execution of it, but on top of that the idea that it could revolutionize education as a whole is a big deal.
The power behind such a tool for each person's growth is immense, and that is something I want to perfect. If the tool lacks a incapable recommendation system, or the UI is too outdated, or something like that, then it could lead to the failure of a massively high potential end product.
So many companies go belly up because they can't create a good system, or design a strong user interface. Those are things that I am aiming to have from the get go.