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5 Education Innovations That Are Changing Lives Right Now

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3. We need to give credit where credit’s due: to U.S. military veterans

Education officials in seven Midwestern states are working to make it possible for student veterans to gain university credit for training and experience they received while serving in the U. S. military.

Some one million veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now enrolled in college. State officials are seeking to save them money and time for the skills they learned while in the military — such recognition of prior learning is one of the suggestions in President Obama’s higher education proposal released last month.

4. British free schools are opening in… former air force bases and fire stations?

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A number of free schools (the equivalent of charter schools in the United States) are opening in unusual spaces: a former Royal Air Force base in Oxfordshire, a former fire station in Norwich and a church and youth court in London.

There are 174 free schools in England and finding facilities to house them has been a challenge. Former police and National Health Service facilities and job and community centers have also been converted into schools, without playgrounds and other amenities. Parents have been hopeful about the changes. After all, is it a building that makes a school or the people — students, teachers, staff — in it?

5. MOOCs bring M.I.T. to Mongolia

Video uploaded by Battushig Myanganbayar/YouTube

17-year-old Battushig Myanganbayar of Ulon Bator, Mongolia, is now a student at M.I.T. thanks in part to his taking Circuits and Electronics, a sophomore-level course that was the first MOOC the Massachusetts university offered. At 15, Myanganbayar was one of 340 out of 100,000 students who earned a perfect score in Circuits and Electronics.

Needless to say, that brought him to the attention of M.I.T. officials. A YouTube video about an invention of Myanganbayar’s, Garage Siren — a sensor that alerts car drivers that people, such as Myanganbayar’s younger sister, are in an apartment driveway and activates a red light — has also brought him acclaim.

Myanganbayar’s achievement is all the more notable as he is from a “country in which a third of the population is nomadic, living in round white felt tents called gers on the vast steppe.” It is also a testimony to the possibilities of MOOCs. While proponents of these argue that they are a way to provide a high quality education to many, many more, critics contend that MOOCs threaten “economic survival of non-elite colleges and are an inadequate replacement for the teaching and support of live professors.”

I’m one such live professor at such a nonelite school. Initially when I heard about MOOCs, I concluded that they spelled the end of my job and that of many fellow professors. MOOCs are still so new to the higher education landscape — which is itself in need if revision — that it’s hard to say if they will really mean that live professors will become rare. Stories like Myanganbayar’s say to me that MOOCs can provide opportunities not only for one teenager from Ulon Bator but for a world that could benefit from his brilliance and, who knows?, lead to yet-unimagined innovations in education and learning.

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6:39PM PST on Nov 11, 2013


7:06AM PDT on Oct 9, 2013

It is troubling that you imply Minecraft will help students. There is little data supporting the idea that videogames of any sort help students, and most of those who push such projects are, surprise surprise, in the pay of videogame manufacturers.

3:26AM PDT on Oct 2, 2013

Video games. Yep...that'll work. :D

10:53PM PDT on Oct 1, 2013

Thanks for sharing this

5:51PM PDT on Oct 1, 2013

Thank you Kristina, for Sharing this!

3:23PM PDT on Oct 1, 2013


9:53AM PDT on Oct 1, 2013

I enjoyed every word of the article - it gave me hope for the future - God bless Yvonne de Mello in Brazil - what a wonderful system!

1:09AM PDT on Oct 1, 2013

Thank you for sharing!

6:06AM PDT on Sep 30, 2013

My son plays minecraft he is obviously training for the futre.

5:14AM PDT on Sep 30, 2013

As long as these help prepare students for the future

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