By Marc Boxser and Anant Agarwal
Eighteen months ago at a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos the star was not Bill Gates of Microsoft or Larry Summers of Harvard, but 12-year-old Khadijah Niazi of Lahore, Pakistan, who captivated the audience by talking about a trend that could revolutionize education. She is one of millions who have improved their education by taking a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC).
Certainly Khadija is an exceptional teenager, as we found out when we met her at the Global Education & Skills Forum in Dubai a year later. She was only 10 years old when she took an Artificial Intelligence online course. But, however preternaturally gifted she is, she underlines the fact that MOOCs may be more appropriate for pre-university learners (K-12), than simply as a means of taking university courses online.
The MOOC phenomenon began only two years ago, but since then has begun to revolutionize higher education, tearing down the walls of tough entrance exams and skyrocketing tuition fees that kept learning beyond the reach of millions. However, some of the greatest student success stories are claimed by secondary school teenagers such as Khadijah Niazi or Battushig Myanganbayar, the 15-year-old Mongolian boy who earned a perfect score in edX’s first MOOC Circuits and Electronics. Their appetite and aptitude for learning puts many of their rich country counterparts to shame, but their story has much wider implications.
The United Nations estimates that 57 million children are not in primary school, and that a staggering 1.6 million extra teachers are needed to achieve universal primary education by 2015 and 3.3 million by 2030. If these teachers are not put in place quickly, and all the signs point to the fact that they will not, then the MOOC revolution should be harnessed to help children that currently have no hope of getting a basic education.
[ Full article available at The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marc-boxser/why-moocs-might-be-just-r_b_5365503.html ]